I buy Rubber Duckies by the dozen, Sippy Cups by the arm full. I let Alex stim whenever, where ever, for however long he wants. I don't only allow him to stim, I find new and improved ways he can do it. Sometimes, I even have help finding new and improved ways to stim- Thanks, Ancora Impartial, for being my partner in crime on this one. I don't make him dress himself- but he does pull his own pants up. I don't force him to use his spoon or his words. I feed him or let him eat with his fingers and give him whatever he asks for verbally because it was important enough for him to use his words. I let him turn our bathroom into an ocean at bath time. I let him jump and throw balls in the house. I do things I know he likes. I let him hide in his room whenever he wants, I don't force him to interact with people and I baby him like crazy. If he wants a hug, he gets a hug. He wants to be held- I hold him. He wants to be carried- I carry him as far as I can. I build my world around him instead of making him adjust to mine. I don't only enable his autistic, dependent, babyish ways... I love every minute of it.
He drinks out of a regular cup when he wants to, he uses his spoon when he feels like it. He uses them more on his own than when he's forced to use them. He can fully undress himself and doesn't complain about pulling his pants up or his shirt down. He knows if something is important enough to use his words for he will get it without question. When he was 4, the first group of words he said to me were when I was holding him in the doctor's waiting room. He said "want one?" I was in shock! I said "Want one?! Want one what?" "baby". Ok, then. We went and got a baby and I bought every different kind of baby there was until I found out he wanted a black baby like the one at school. Ok. I got him the baby he wanted and he took it everywhere with him, I dared his dad to say a word. Daddy said- "He asked for it? Let him have it." After that, every birthday, every Christmas he got babies until his attention turned to rubber ducks. Since I don't force him to interact with people there's not a huge amount of pressure on him so he feels free to acknowledge who he wants and ignore who he wants, so far this has resulted in him being a social butterfly about 75% of the time. and because I baby him with the hugs and holding and carrying he knows when something's wrong "Mommy's here." (Yes, I know that is usually reserved for the other mom but on those special occasions when he cries and says "awww, I know. Mommy's here," it's me he's talking about.)
The first words ever said to me that knocked the air right out of my chest were the words "Have you considered autism?" The second words that not only took my breath but knocked me to my knees were "You have to consider the fact that he may never go beyond where he's at." I went through all 5 stages of grief and later went beyond acceptance to embracing it. Do you know how many mothers have sat there cuddling their baby and said these exact words to them..."I wish you could stay like this forever"? Wish granted. What do I have to complain about? It's such a burden to have your almost 10 year old son not find you embarrassing? not want to fight you on what's fair? It's such a pain to have your teenage son want to give you loves? that doesn't think you are sticking your nose where it doesn't belong? It's a hassle to have a 20ish year old son who still thinks you have a clue about life? or think that you are just as important as he is? I have nothing to complain about.
Why do I need to push him to be something he's not when I can use the time to appreciate who he is instead? He will use his words (and does) when he's ready. He will use his spoon all the time when he's comfortable holding it. He will learn at his own pace the things that he needs to learn. I don't care if he's ever potty trained. Yes, we work on it but it wouldn't be the first adult diaper I've ever changed. So what if he eats with his fingers? Who is that bothering? Not me. Not his brothers. So what if I have to buy sippy cups every now and then? or the most expensive toy elmo ever mass produced because it was important enough to name? Who is it hurting? Not him. He's happy just as he is. Do I want him to make progress? More than anything, I would love to see that. Do all of my hopes ride on that? No. He gets the ABA, the OT, ST, APE, music therapy. Any therapy available he gets- during school. My other boys don't do homework 24/7. They have time to relax. They have their little things I do for them to show them I love them for who they are and I accept them no matter their ability level. Why should he be any different? He's not expecting me to change who I am to meet his standards, he loves me anyway. Doesn't he deserve the same?