Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A different halloween

I thought that this was maybe the year to end trick-or-treating. I mentioned nothing about Halloween and did no last minute shopping for costume stuff. I bought candy for the house and msk and b-d had bought a pumpkin as part of his doing things out and about therapy. Minimal Halloween effort.

During my usual "I'm about to head home, anything I need to pick up" end of day call I asked child #2 if there were any plans for the night. They all decided they wanted to go trick or treating. I told them they had to get it together all on their own and I would get home as quick as I could, but that was the extent of my effort in the project.

We traipsed through the neighborhood from 6:15 to 7:30. I let my elder kids help msk at the doors and resolutely stayed on the sidewalk waiting. I occasionally called for msk to keep moving when it looked like he was getting stuck, but that's all I did.

I'm sure we made a strange crew for anyone who paid attention. A group made up of (almost) 13, 15 and 17 year old kids generally doesn't have a parent in tow. Almost teen boys may be rude, but they generally get the whole social clue thing of Halloween better. He and his sisters dealt with all sorts of tricky situations including:
  • do you take candy or wait for it to be dropped in your bag? - different at every house
  • when you recognize someone from school do you greet them with a hi or a hug?
  • when people who don't know you ask complicated questions that you can't answer what should you do?
  • when doors are opened, but no one comes out, should you go in?

As recently as last year I was making a point of going to doors with msk and prompting him for appropriate speech. Lots of "What do you need to say?" and "Don't forget to say thank..." My point was more to inform people who were coming to the door that there was a reason that he was acting differently than some vague hope that a once a year practice of these bizarre skills was going to make him become the typical trick or treater.

This year he seemed big and functional enough that that kind of talking from his mom would be insulting. His sisters could do whatever they wanted to to explain atypical behavior. People could shake their heads and think he was a rude boy. There are plenty of rude teen boys, so really, who cares?

I believe this was the least stressful Halloween for me since msk's preliminary autism suspicions, nine years ago.

I have spent eight years trying to mould his behavior, framing the night as therapy. "He needs to learn to talk to strangers." "He needs to learn that social rules can be changed on special days." "I need to make autism more visible and understood." For one year at least, I have given up on all those goals and just walked around the neighborhood with my three kids. Next year there will only be two of them, so this year is probably the last time.

For the record, the world didn't come to an end and there is now, as is always the case the day after Halloween, way too much candy in my house.

Sometimes you just need to let go and relax.

This is my first post of NaBloPoMo. Please check out my fellow Baltimore Ed NaBloPoMo partners at their blogs:

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