From disaster to joy

Today had the potential to be a rough day… it snowed here last night and most of the morning making the roads a bit slick and challenging to drive on. Today Ethan had a therapy session scheduled with his Behavioral Therapist and our schedule on Tuesdays is for me to pick him up from school and drop him off at therapy on the occasions when Shelly is working and unable to do so.

Normally this would not be an issue for most families, but as we all know we are not most families… in addition to Ethan’s autism, I myself am disabled with nerve damage that affects the strength and coordination of my right leg as well as significant pain in my low back, hips and legs. Shelly was working today and left about an hour and a half before I needed to leave to pick up Ethan. After driving to work she called and said that because of the road conditions she didn’t feel like it was wise for me to drive so we cancelled his therapy session.

The problem… Ethan loves going to his behavioral therapy session. He has a great relationship with his therapist and enjoys spending time with her. In addition to behavioral therapy, Ethan works with an occupational therapist and for the last six months those sessions have been on Mondays. So on Monday’s he would leave school about 20 minutes early to go to therapy and this was his routine. Because his therapist was sick, she cancelled a session a couple of weeks ago so we let the school know that he was going to ride the bus home instead of being picked up early by Shelly.

When it came time to leave per his normal schedule, he prepared his backpack and insisted that he was a “car rider” and that we were coming to pick him up. When we did not arrive he wouldn’t get on the bus and kept insisting that he was a car rider on Mondays and the school finally had to call and have us come and pick him up.

Today we had a similar situation because due to my disability, it was not a good day for me to risk driving given the conditions. I emailed his special needs teacher and let her know the situation. Because of the last occurrence I also made sure she had my cell number and told her to call me and let him speak to me if it became a problem.

It did not surprise me to get a call from the school later and have them put him on the phone. Normally when speaking to Ethan on the phone it is just that, speaking to Ethan, not with him. He listens and occasionally will respond to simple yes or no questions and sometimes use echolalia to respond by repeating what we have said to him.

Today was different… today he spoke to me. He told me that he was not going to therapy and that he was going to ride the bus. I told him that was right, that there was not going to be therapy today and that he needed to ride the bus. We exchanged a couple of comments, exchanged… He altered the tone of his voice with each utterance which is common with kids who have autism, but today was significant…

Today was the first time I have ever had a conversation with my son. He is twelve years old and the conversation was very short, but that doesn’t matter. Today I had my first conversation with my son.