Being a Dad…the best role I've ever had.

Archive for the ‘step child’ Category

Remember, context is king

Sometimes, it is difficult to remember how well you really have it when things are seemingly going wrong.  Just today, I found out that a co-worker of mine may not be with us for much longer.  I cannot imagine how this person must feel, knowing that, in a matter of months, they may not be here. 

So, when I heard that my nine year old was having a difficult day, I thought-initially-boy, he doesn’t know how great his life really is.

That thought, though, only lasted a few moment…until I heard him on the phone. See, while Preston is not eaten up with cancer, in his mind, at that moment, he may as well be.  In my talks with him, and from reading the blog posts of others who are also ‘on the spectrum’, they describe the same thing: the world is, basically, ending for them.

With Preston, getting him calm is paramount and THEN finding out what put him over the edge. It is a delicate and very fine line and, once in a while, we break it and things can get much worse before it gets better.

Today seems to be a little different.  I wasn’t home to help him cope and couldn’t really handle it on the phone, so he did the best he could.

When I got home, he was fine. The house was in one piece and his brother was still kicking.  All in all, a great outcome.

In talking with him about his bad day, I realized that it isn’t just what happens in the same day, but it could also be from the previous day.  Last night, we had Stevi B’s pizza, Sweet Frog and a short cooling down period before bedtime. A lot was crammed into one evening. He also has not had his ‘daddy time’ as he was sick during the time his father would normally have picked him up.

It is the little things like can add up to a major event and sometimes we forget that. 

And, context is key.  Something I need to keep in mind.  Here I was, Concerned and upset over my co-worker’s condition, dismissing what my step son was going through. But, in Preston’s mind, he may as well have been that co-worker.

While I am glad it was good out come for a melt down day, I am heartbroken over my friend..

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Lookout Dollywood!

I am lucky to have a family who shares at least one of my passions: theme 20171002_121905parks. Since I can remember, I have LOVED the thrill of the rollercoaster. ANY rollercoaster.  Along with that, I have a fondness for amusement parks and theme parks (there is a difference.)  I remember the old Ocean View Amusement park in Norfolk, Virginia. I grew up going to Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. I recall going to a now forgotten theme park called Storybook Land, though there were no rollercoasters there, much to my dismay.  Along the way, I married and had a child…Chase. Chase shares my love of the thrill ride and, as he grew, we began to venture outside of our confines and went to places we had not gone…Carowinds in Charlotte, NC and Six Flags America in Maryland.  There were small amusement parks in or near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Included in them is the now defunct Hard Rock Park.

When I remarried, I gained another enthusiast.  Actually, I gained two…her son also likes the thrill ride.  And, now, we have a four year old who also loves the parks, but…his love of thrill rides has yet to develop. I am sure it will, though. 

Over the last couple of years, Chase and I have gone to parks in Pennsylvania and Ohio.  One park, though, to our west, had remained elusive: Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

An opportunity arose, recently, that would bring us to within a 45 minute drive of that park, so…we spent a day at Dollywood, though, ironically, Chase was not able to be with us.  We did, however, have a great time there.  We rode all but one of the rollercoasters and the kids did many of the ‘flat’, non coaster rides.

The kids LOVED it.

Which is both interesting and amazing. 

See, one of the kids, Preston, is autistic and the four year old has sensory issues.  While Xander eschews the rollercoasters, he loved the spinning rides. Interesting as he hates wind in his face. With the associated noise, light, crowd and wind, the amusement parks can be overwhelming. Even for neurotypical people, parks can be a bit too much.  Neither child had a significant problem, though, by the end of the day, they were done.

Preston rode several rollercoasters, each of which present sensory issues, yet, he rode them like a boss.  I think that without certain influences and the lack of a real crowd at the park, he was able to  soldier on and not let it get to him.

The key was the lack of a crowd.  Preston is easily distract and, thus, without the crowd, he focused on having fun.  Likewise, Xander was able  to cope as he, too, had few influences.20171003_123154

The long drive back to the Richmond area was a real challenge as we picked up a Dachsund puppy-the real point to the trip-who was worse than either child. He is adorable, so all is forgiven. The kids? Awesome.

Aside from Chase not being with us, it was a fantastic trip.

Seeing Dolly would have been the icing on the cake.

Maybe next time.

Wonky LED’s and an amazing brain

My wife is home schooling Preston, as the local school system could not really cope with his unique needs and abilities.  Children who are on ‘the spectrum’ are not like neurotypical children.  In Preston’s case, he not only is bright, but gets bored and pays attention to things that most people would not, like the order of books on a shelf or a sign that should not be up. Things like that. So, because his needs were not being sufficiently handled by the school system-and, don’t get me wrong, Hanover Schools are excellent, for most.  I have nothing against this school system or even Preston’s former school–they just are not equipped or staffed to handle one, let alone many-which they claim they do.

Anyway, as part of Preston’s home school curriculum, I am teaching him programming and how computers work.

To my delight, he has a knack for the programming part. I think he will for the hardware as well, though his mind wanders a great deal when I am teaching him about the hardware.  A good programmer should know the basics of how the computer works.

Along those lines, I dug up a small computer (one with very little capabilities called an ‘Arduino’, they are used for controlling things) and an old laptop and we made two LED’s blink in varying patterns and duration.  While he got a bit bored while I was setting it up, he got very excited when we made the LED’s do things. 

That was fun, but it also showed me a bit about his very anal attention:  those LED’s HAD to blink at precise intervals.  He could not cope with random intervals of on or off. He also did not like the brightness. I explained that, while we can control the brightness, we were not doing so then, that was for another lesson.  He, reluctantly, went along with that, but those LED’s blinking differently, he could not take that.  So, we changed the program so they would blink at a constant rate. I had him tell me how to do that.  With only a few lessons, he was able to do that. 

Of course, by that point, our four year old was interested and, he too, wanted to make the LED’s blink.  Preston and I changed the code so that you could type a number and make the LED’s blink at that rate.  Xander was just as excited as Preston.

It is amazing how Preston reasons things and how well he remembers. This was the first lesson in a couple of weeks and he remembered the last things we did–I did a verbal quiz and he was 100% correct. 

HIs tendency to be so anal, though, can be a slippery slope.  We will work through the rough spots, but I think he will be able to use it as a strength.  In this case, the randomness of the blinking LED’s  made him a bit nuts, but he worked through that and came up with a solution.

Of course, the notion that a dollar’s worth of parts would provide he and Xander with so much fun is, itself, amazing. Like his brain. 

I love that kid.

The Nightly Talk

As a parent to a child who has been deemed to be ‘on the spectrum’, things could get a bit tense at times.  Those ‘times’ are much less frequent they used to be and we are better equipped to handle them than we were just a couple of years ago. While labels are often hurtful or carry a ton of baggage, Autistic doesn’t have to be such a label.

My step son is proud of himself and he should be.  He is quite the accomplished young man, at the ripe old age of nine.  Indeed, he knows more, about many things, than many ‘normal’ adults I know. This can be as much of a problem as it is a plus.  The problem is that (and this is something I think most people in general all share) he honestly believes he is right and it can quite a shock when he realizes he was wrong.

One such incident led to what is now a nightly occurrence for us: nightly talks for us. On the night in question, Preston was already out of sorts. He had had a long, busy day and his wonderful brain was in overdrive. We were discussing something and he told me something that was not right.  So I explained that he misunderstood and, well, it was meltdown city. 

Fortunately, I had gotten to know how to deal with him and was able to calm him down. I sat with him for about an hour, talking about funny things we had done and assured him that I was not upset with him and that we all loved him very much.  He thanked me and told me that the talk helped him calm down.  He gave me a big hug and went right to sleep.

The next night, was easier.  He had a busy day, and, this time, when said something that wasn’t quite right, I said ‘well, I’m not sure about that, but will check it out and we will talk about it tomorrow.’  He then asked me to talk to him for a few minutes, that it might help him to calm down.  Sure enough, it did.  This was many months ago, I’ve lost track of when we started, but it has been a while.

Funny thing happened, though.  I got to know him a bit better.  We often have these really deep or very high level discussions about things as varied as cars to black holes in space. He loves space, science and pretty much anything technical.  Did I mention he is only nine years old (as of this writing)?  I also realized that this kid, who is not my biological child, is very much like me.  We share a lot of common interests and also have many of the same mannerisms.  I also realized that he is very much a nine year old BOY.  And, as a boy, he finds ‘boy things’ funny. Like burps, farts and other bodily sounds.  Yes, I know girls do too, so don’t get wonky on me.

As he is only nine and does ‘boy things’, we must keep that in mind when he acts up.  How much of it is being a kid and how much is because of the way he is wired.  It is a fine line, to be sure.  Sometimes, we get it right, sometimes we don’t.

This is as much an education for him as it is for us.  He lets us know, most of the time, what his mind is doing.  And…likewise, he uses that to his advantage. He is, after all, a very intelligent kid.

Back to the nightly talks.

Well, before we get back to Preston, let me share another side effect: my youngest son also wants me to talk to him at bedtime as well.  So, I talk a few minutes with him-usually about when I ‘was a kid.’  He loves it, but not every night.  That’s OK, I spend a lot of time on the weekends with him.  We talk a lot.

These talks, often times lasting thirty minutes or more, have become something I look forward to, even when I have something else I need or want to do. I miss them on the weekend as Preston spends that time with father.

I always start them out by asking how his day was.  Even though I often get the same answer, that’s OK.  I’d rather him repeat himself than not tell me anything. I also want him to know that I am, in fact, interested in what he does.  He is beginning to open up more and more.  I also have a couple of things I repeat every time, including a fake misunderstanding of Spongebob Squarepants.  I integrate that into a seemingly unconnected conversation…

“So, I saw this car today with a cute little bumper sticker. It was this yellow, boxy thing with pants and holes” He will look at me, smile and shout “SPONGEBOB!” to which I reply “oh, you’ve seen it!?”  It gets him smiling and makes him a bit more responsive. But, I think it is time to retire it and move on to something else. He got irritated with it the last time I did it.  He asked ‘why do you DO THAT!?’  I blame it on being old. It made him giggle.

Sometimes, though, I forget who I am talking to and say something that upsets him, like talking about sickness or something that has happened in the world. This usually begins with him asking about something related.  I can tell when he is starting to get upset and I quickly change the subject.  But…unfortunately, by that point, he is processing what was said. He may not mention it the next day or for days, but he will bring it up again.  Sometimes, he tries to rationalize it himself.  He does a great job with that, sound reasoning and conclusion…even when it is not right.

He looks at things very differently than I do.  It is refreshing and, to be honest, I would not have him any other way.  I hate what his mind goes through during a meltdown or when he begins to get upset, but, still, he is who he is because of the way he is wired and that’s what is important to remember.  I love that kid.

The Extended Family

Last night, Preston was having a bit of a difficult time. He had a concussion in November and is still suffering from the ill effects of the injury. He was a little upset that the weekend was over and he wanted to spend more time with his father. I may be step Dad, and treat him like my own, but I’m not DAD. I explained to him that I knew exactly how he felt. He gave me a funny look as if to say ‘yeah, how would you?’ I told him how lucky he was, he had two Mom’s and two Dad’s who love him very much. When I was growing up, I didn’t know my ‘birth’ mother or my Dad. I had spent some time with them, but didn’t really know either. The lady I called MOM, adopted me when I was his age. I told him that I didn’t really get spend any time with my Dad until eight or nine but got to really know him when I was a teen. I told him it was OK to feel the way he did and never be afraid to talk to me about it. He gave me the biggest hug, like a burden had been lifted. He asked me a few more questions about my childhood, which I answered. I reassured him that his Dad was welcome to drop by anytime he could to spend time with Preston. It also made me think about ‘FAMILY’.
They say blood is thicker than water, which may be true, but FAMILY trumps it all. And, in my book, there doesn’t have to be any blood relation to make a FAMILY. Yesterday was my SISTER’s birthday. We are not related by blood and, it seems, we don’t even share the same mother…but, that is OK. I grew up knowing who my family was, just as I want Preston to know his. Mike has been part of my family for six years now and it does not matter, to me, how that came to be. He, too, is part of my family.
Ann, the sister who had the birthday yesterday, and her late husband, treated me like a king when I was little. I remained very close to them until they moved to New York. I always had a problem with that, but, I really do not know why. They moved to be closer to their son and grandchildren. As that happened after the deaths of my Mom, my Dad and my first wife, it kind of felt like I was being left alone. That scared me. I don’t know why, as I still had a big family right here at home. My son, my then girlfriend (whom I married a short time later) and the rest of my family-which, just seemed invisible.  Ann and I grew apart, but not very much. The death of her husband had a big impact on me, he was, after all, like a Dad to me for most of my life. And, even though I don’t talk to her as much, I still love her and nothing will ever change that. I have three other sisters too…Mary, which Mom also adopted; Katy, who is my blood sister (meaning we are actually, biologically, related-have the same parents) and Rose. I could write a book about this.
Each one of those three ladies are awesome in their own ways and, as a result, I feel like I am a better man because of things I learned from them.
Mary was always unapologetic and adventurous. She showed me that following the rules was not always the best thing to do…I know how that sounds, but, she was right.  She’s had some rough times, but got through them and is now a fine lady, content with the way things turned out. Even now, when things don’t always go the way they should, she maintains that same attitude. It is a quality I wish I had.
Katy is my more liberal minded sister.  Polar opposite of me, more like the way my Dad thought.  She is very much like him, her sense of humor, the way she looks at things and the way she just accepts people. Well, OK, my Dad was not quite as accepting of a lot of people.  I didn’t grow up with her, we saw very little of each other as the ‘social workers’ in Chesterfield did their best to keep us apart.  We keep in touch now and I’m very glad we do.
Rose was a foster child Mom had for several years.  When she was released from the foster care system, she chose to stay with us. Rose has a physical disability–cerebral palsy–that left her not quite as mobile as most are.  She complemented the rest of my expanding family, only moving out on her own when she was in her late twenties.  Over the years, we’ve drifted apart and I do regret that.  It is one thing I need to work on. It isn’t because of an argument or anything like that. For the longest time, I convinced myself it was the distance-she lives in another state with what is left of her family. Distance, though, is a cop out. I just need to do it.
Suffice it to say, that there is actually very little ‘blood’ in my family and that’s OK.
That brings me back to Preston.  The difficulties of just trying to cope with the big world and Autism is hard enough.  Having your life change so much and in such a short time is overwhelming.  When he started to melt down last night, I though ‘oh my lord, what did I say this time’, but, this time, I think he was just looking for some comfort, even though it took a bit of effort to get him to open up.  And, he isn’t one to just blurt out what his problem or problem really is.  You have to piece it together.  That’s tough to do.
Little dude is having a difficult time dealing with his now bigger family. The two small one’s, Sam and Xander, bug him. He has to share a room with Sam when he goes to his Dad’s house and, soon, will be sharing a room here, with Xander. Sam is step brother (and cute as a button) and Xander is half-brother. Both are just annoyances to him. I suspect, in a few years, that will change. He still sees Xander as a bother, but warms up to him when he thinks it is necessary and plays with him, from time to time, without being prompted to do so. He still thinks that both are out to kill him, even though they are just playing.  In Preston’s view, there’s little difference between play and non-play action. It is something he is trying to learn.  He’ll figure it out. He’s one smart kid.
He also thinks he doesn’t get much time with Dad.  He’s right, he doesn’t.  That’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just the way things are…it’s not always fair. However, having said that, it isn’t quite the lack of time that Preston perceives it to be.  Dad picks him up Friday afternoon and brings him back, early evening, on Sunday’s.  Once in a while, that doesn’t happen for various reasons…vacation, work, illness, etc.  It isn’t because Dad doesn’t want him or we don’t want Dad to get him. Those are infrequent.  Not to Preston, though. One of the Autism traits he exhibits is perception distortion. That is, two days to him is more like two hours.  This past weekend, Dad picked him up for physical therapy and then took him home. He came back a bit early for a birthday party that he had been invited. Now, we are only talking a couple of hours difference from the norm, but, for Preston, it was like a day. Add in the time that Dad spends with Dad’s new family and Preston feels like he doesn’t get enough Dad time.  And, try as I may, I’m not Dad. Nor am I going to pretend to be. I will treat him like mine, but never try to replace Dad.  And, that’s the way it needs to be.  I think Preston has accepted me as ‘dad 2’ and, in this case, I’m happy to be number 2.
We are all working with Preston to not look at his brothers as anything but brothers.  Preston has fully accepted Chase as big brother and Chase loves him the same way. They get along great. He also seems to have accepted his new sister–also older than him. It is just the young ones he has a problem with…they are, after all, trying to ‘kill’ him, you know, when they are not playing with him. He has yet to realize the support system he has or how big his family has become.
In time, though, I hope he will come to appreciate his expanded family as I have mine.

Dealing with the meltdown

For the last couple of years, it seemed that Preston’s loss of temper had subsided.  In the past, it would not take much to set him off. Indeed, moving a book from one side of a table to the other would be enough to cause him to meltdown.  Generally, though, when he was like that, it might also mean he was getting sick.  His outbursts were often tied to his health.  I don’t know if that is an Autism trait or not, but it was certainly his.

As he got older, he learned to deal with things a lot better. With coaching from us as well as an intolerance for his outbursts, he has learned to cope with the situations that cause him so much angst.  I say intolerance because he had begun to get somewhat violent.  And, he is a strong child.  The fear of him hurting himself, one of the other kids or even us led us to deal with it a bit more harshly than before.  He knows his outbursts will get him punished, either loss of electronics, no friends coming over to play or some other appropriate form of punishment.  While this may seem over arching for a child with his issues, it has, nonetheless, helped him with boundaries. And, he definitely needs boundaries. More on that in a bit.

He is a second grader now and has matured a great deal.  We thought those tantrums were about done.

They aren’t.

Lately, he has regressed back to the tantrums.

Like today.

My wife signed the family up for the local YMCA.  So, she takes the three year old and Preston. My 18 year old followed later.  While at the Y, Preston and Xander were in the big kids and little kids areas. Xander played and had a good time.  Preston had a good time as well, until…

…he wanted to do the rock climb wall, which was closed.

Oh boy.

Preston misunderstood what my wife had said about it and took her comment as a hard fast promise that he could climb the wall.  The Y, however, said otherwise.  Preston melted down.  This wasn’t just a melt down for a few minutes. Oh no. It went on for quite some time.  She brought him home this way. He refused to get out of the car. She called me to help.

So, I go out to help him. Find out what happened, that sort of thing.

One of the things I learned about him, early on, is that he needs a lot of physical connection while he is this way, either holding him down, hugging him or simply sitting close to him with an arm around him. It’s a reassurance, I think, that he is loved.  He’s never said that, but I think that is what he believes. Any way, I sit on the edge of the car seat and hug him. He almost immediately calms, but not all the way. 

I could not understand him, so I had him calm down some more.  I hugged and had him squeeze my hands.  That usually distracts him and I make a dumb comment about it and he usually laughs.

Not tonight.

So, I resort to Dad and tell him he needed to suck it up and tell me what was wrong.  The way I said that (and not with those words, but something close—and clean) must have struck him as funny because he half smiled, settled down and told me about the wall.

I reassured him that Mommy would not lie and that she did not know that the wall was closed.  And, that sometimes, things he is told are just wrong.  I shared a short story about an experience I had (he seems to like that) and then suggested that we go inside for some good old ice cream. That always makes me feel better. He agreed.  I told him I would not talk about this incident anymore tonight, but we would discuss it again.  He seemed to get better after that.

The thing with Preston and situations like this is that he is quite literal.  If I say ‘I am going to jump down your throat and kick your liver out’ he will sit there and try to figure out how I would really do that. I had to explain that it was just a saying…a joke…nothing serious, because, after all, I am far too big.  He understands that, but the original statement was over his head. But, when his mom said he could do that wall if it were available was interpreted by him as ‘you can do that wall’.  The rest was lost to him.  And that is his biggest problem now:  trying to figure out what he should take as fact and what he can ignore.  He often chooses to ignore and that is just as bad.

A long time ago, we started to set boundaries for him.  No more playing in our bedroom. He has his own PLUS a room downstairs he can play in.  No more using our bathroom in our bedroom: there is one in the hall for him to use.  Things like that.  Why? Well, as he is both literal AND a rule follower, this was the start of his education on how to act socially AND deal with a teacher in school.  Plus, our bedroom is just that: OURS.  It is not his, nor anyone else’s in the house. This also taught him that other bedrooms were also off limits.  It was an adjustment, but came through very well. Unfortunately, he has not quite figured out that there are boundaries outside of our house, but he is close. Very close.

It is interesting to see and understand how his brain processes and acts out situations.  While it can be problematic, such as today’s problems, it is also a very cool thing.  For all of the meltdowns, we have had many, many more great conversations about the stars, science, religion, racing, video games, war and a host of things. Mostly games and science.  The  breadth of his interest can, at times, be very cool.  I often forget how old he is.  He asks better questions than many adults I know.  How freaking cool is that?

Tonight was the first time he’s had a melt down like this since we got his diagnosis. Let me tell you, it was far easier to deal with, knowing WHY he is like this, than it ever was prior to the diagnosis. I felt so much more calmness in talking to him and not once did I lose my composure…something that has happened in the past.  When this used to happen, and we did not know why, it was frustrating.  He’s melted down over something so trivial as not using what he thought was the right door to exit Applebee’s.  Not knowing why he did was frustrating. Not knowing that there was a reason for this and he wasn’t just being stubborn made it very difficult at times to stay focused on calming him down and not resorting to threats about his toys or, worse, losing one’s composure and yelling.

Tonight, I knew why he did this (but, not the trigger) so it was easier to sit there, let him be him and try to calm him with out getting excited myself.  Staying calm certainly helped him to get calm and I was also able to determine that things that used to work, no longer do. 

And that is key.  Watch, regroup and try again.  But, stay calm.  His Mother figured out this out a long time ago, it took me a little longer.  He also seems to react better with me than her.  I don’t know why, it is not anything she is doing wrong. No, she is very caring and very loving, especially when he is that way.  I am a little more gruff.  I don’t know if that is it, may be he needs a little toughness, maybe it is the father figure (his biological father can also get him calm) who knows.  And don’t misunderstand, she does a great job with him.  She knows how to talk to him and can sense when he gets out of sorts. She changes her voice and supermom comes out.  Most of the time, she can fend off a melt down, which is probably why they got fewer and fewer.  Sometimes, though, he just snaps.  Like tonight.

We complement each other, I think. I’ve learned a great deal from her…when not to continue a line of thinking, when, and when not to talk to him about something, what battles to just let go and more.  I’ve taught her that certain things, even with his issues, just cannot be allowed.  The boundaries.  And also that it is OK to NOT blame oneself.

Children like Preston are the way they are because they are different. It does not mean it is your fault as a parent. It is not your fault they scream and throw fits in public. It is no one business, even in a public gym or restaurant. Embarrassing, maybe, but not your fault.

After the outburst tonight, we had ice cream and Preston went on to, happily, do his chores and watch a couple of YouTube videos. It was like nothing had happened.  And, that is the way with him. After these episodes, all is good.  He may have a headache, but he tends to forget that he had even had the meltdown.  Tomorrow, he probably won’t remember.

We will.

What if my other children are also Autistic? What if I am?

When we began the process for getting my step-son evaluated for Autism Spectrum Disorder, I did not know much about it. I still don’t, but I do know more that I did.  I have also changed my perception of people with ASD.  My first hand experience with my step-son has been all over the map, but mostly a huge, positive one. That, for several years, I just thought he was spoiled speaks volumes about his condition. If you did not know, you would think he was ‘normal’, maybe a bit mature, for his age.

However, thinking back about some of his quirks, outbursts and other traits, I see that in my other two kids.  My 18 year old exhibited many, but not most.  My three year old, again, shows many of the characteristics but not all.  And, then there is myself.  I fit the bill on many of the characteristics but, again, not all. And, this begs the question I posed in an earlier post: how many have either been misdiagnosed or, worse, not at all but should be?

For example, Xander, my three year old, is prone to outbursts, much like Preston did.  He does not ‘melt down’ as much or to the same degree as Preston once did, but, nonetheless, Xander still does.  He also is beginning to show some of the same texture issues that Preston does.  Xander tends to get fixated on one thing for days or weeks at a time.  However, the one big sign that Xander exhibits but Preston does not: Xander has a very vivid imagination.  He can take anything make it into a toy and play for quite a while.  You can hear him acting out things.  He also bursts into song, exhibits empathy and will engage total strangers.  Preston does none of this.

And then there is myself.  I can be rather rigid in my thinking.  And, though I thoroughly enjoy being around others and participating in conversation, I don’t really care much for people in general.  I do not get scared or anxious in crowds, but it is uncomfortable at times.  Sometimes, I find myself not caring when I should and also tend to gravitate to one, maybe two people when in a group.  Generally, when she is with me, that person is my wife.  She is my comfort zone and I tend not to leave the ‘zone.’

As far as imagination goes, I have tons of that.  But, what’s odd is that I cannot always ‘see’ what’s in my head.  I know what things look like, but I often cannot ‘see’ the object in my head.  I found out, via a friend, that this is an actual condition called aphantasic.  You, literally, are ‘brain blind’ in that you cannot imagine or picture anything in your head. I’m not quite like that, I can ‘see’ dim images, but no detail and lack of color.  I would make an awful witness. I am terrible with names and faces for this reason.

So, what does all of this mean? Well, I don’t quite know except that the brain is a very delicate and complicated device.  I don’t think Xander is autistic, but, honestly, I think it is too soon to really know.  I think he is more the three year old than an autistic three year old.  ADHD, maybe. 

Since getting the diagnosis, I see Preston more as a child that needs our help, needs my help, more than seeing him as a spoiled child (which, like most children, he is to a degree.)  Knowing WHY he does what does makes it much easier for me to understand and cope just as he has to.  It also helps me be me…see, I share many of his quirks too.  I always denied it, my wife loves to point it out, but, I think she is on to something.  Who knows, maybe I have Aspergers (which, apparently, is no longer discussed.) Whatever the case, I have learned that the world doesn’t give a darn about me and that was one of the biggest eye opening moments of my life. It does not revolve around me or anyone else.  Preston will figure this out too.

As odd as it sounds, I am looking forward to embarking on this journey with him.  And if Xander does turn out to have the same thing, I look forward to walking with him as well.

Love and patience, my friends.

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