Sunday, June 5, 2011

Autism has an Amazing Day

We were invited to a high school graduation party for our niece this weekend.  If you are familiar at all with autism and children that have it you will know parties can be a very tricky environment.  The sensory overload can ruin the time for the child and family.

The party we were going to was taking place at the community club house where my in-law's live.  Attached to the clubhouse is a swimming pool.   This is "our" swimming pool.  We go there all summer and Franklin and Jackson love it.  The soul purpose of this location in Franklin's mind is to swim.  Attending a party and not being able to swim would send him into a meltdown of epic proportions.  So in preparation I had a babysitter come with us to make sure there was an eye on him at all times.  Another tidbit about autism is that drownings are one of (if not the) top killers of children with autism.  Autistic children have an enormous attraction to the water, and Franklin fits that mold.  He is attracted to puddles of water, the dog bowl full of water, water coming out of a sprinkler or a faucet, lakes, swimming pools, even glasses of water.

Typically when I go to the pool, I dress Franklin in his swimsuit and life vest out at the car, because he squirms away from me and jumps into the pool and it has happened on occasion that he has made into the pool with his clothes on before I have even entered the gate of the pool, someone else had let him in once because he was walking about 30 feet in front of me and ran straight for the jacuzzi.

If you are the type of parent that now is judging or offering advice about swimming lessons when you are unfamiliar with autism - let me school you.  I have tried swimming lessons, and Franklin just doesn't have the receptive part of communication down yet in that environment, but we will be trying it again this summer.

But back to the party.  Franklin and Jackson were on their best behavior.   Franklin was engaging to people.  We had tons of eye contact, he was in and out of the pool, the babysitter was superb.  Mommy and Daddy got to eat a meal, and enjoy some company.  The kids were in and out of the pool (mostly in) for about 4 hours.  The babysitter had to leave, so daddy took the duty and got in the pool with the boys, and it's always a good time for them all.

I was thrilled to hear those that don't see Franklin very often say how much progress he has made.  I see him everyday so sometimes the progress and huge strides that he has to make escapes me.  But for those family and friends that don't see him that often it is noticed and the comments are appreciated and truly open my eyes to how amazing this kid truly is.

After we got the kids out of the pool and dressed and dancing in the club house, Jackson fell asleep and Franklin escaped back out to the pool deck and before I could get to him he jumped back into the pool with all his clothes on and dog paddling as he might to get to the side of the pool he couldn't make it, so in mommy goes with her clothes on to get him out.  Middle aged mom with kids and I still am the life of the party.  Just another lesson about Franklin is he will go to any lengths to get to the pool, good thing we were all on our game.  Just not as fast as him.


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