Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Long Weekend Ends, Back to School

Yesterday marked the end of the Memorial Day weekend and back to work.  It also marked the end of my son's long weekend home from school.  Normally, his visits of a mixed bag.  It is always good to have him home, but he is a lot of work.  As much as I hate to admit it, I sometimes look forward to his returning to school so things can return to what is the "new normal" around here.  Don't get me wrong, I love having him home and I am sad that he has to go back, but I am also somewhat relieved.

Due to his disabilities, there is a lot more that has to be done compared to when he is away.  When he is home, we usually have to prepare special meals for him because he would only eat certain foods.  Then there is the issue of his still not being toilet trained.  It is not easy to clean up the dirty Depends of a young man that is 5'10" and 145 pounds.  He also has a tendency to take over the television and my laptop whenever he is home.  We have had computers that he could use, but they are older and slower, and don't work too well, so he often sits with me and we play games and watch videos on mine.

As this past weekend came to a close, there was the usual sadness that he was heading back to school.  However, the sense of relief was not as strong.  Some of the past issues that make having him home so difficult were not as intense.  First, after taking him back from his April break he began eating a much wider variety of foods at school.  We were determined to try to keep up the wide variety of food that he had begun to eat at school.  We made sure to prepare a plate of whatever we were eating and give that to him first.  He ate most of what we put in front of him and we only occasionally had to supplement with chicken tenders when he hadn't gotten enough to eat.

Another thing that made this past weekend better for him was that we bought a new desktop computer for him to use.  When he had his First Communion at school nearly two weeks ago, he received over $100 in gifts.  The next morning, I found a basic computer for less than $300 that would provide him with everything he needed to do the things he likes on the computer.  This consists primarily of watching videos on YouTube and listening to music.  Only occasionally did he want to sit with me and do something together on my laptop.

There still were the other issues that we have to deal with.  His toileting is still a problem.  He usually is OK with urinating in the toilet, but the bowel movements are a problem.  We go through a lot of Depends and wipes whenever he is home.  Often, and sorry to be graphic, we have to give him a bath after a bowel movement.  Bathing is another area that he is not able to do on his own.  And of course, for the most part, when he was home the television was on whatever he wanted to watch, which isn't really that big a deal because I usually only have it on for background.

Since he turned 18, his progress once back at school has been remarkable.  In the past 6 weeks he has made a number of improvements in some of his problem areas.  Previously, he only ate chicken wings or tenders and salty snacks.  Now, he is eating a wide variety of proteins and vegetables.  He even ate ice cream, which he had never eaten, right before he came home.  He is starting to take his medications without having to have the pills crushed and mixed with food or drink.  If he continues progressing as he has recently,  I am sure that some of his other issues will be conquered soon as well.

It is funny, as my son was growing up and it was becoming painfully obvious that he would not have a "normal" life, I was determined to keep him with me as long as I could.  I have a friend that I used to work with who also has a special needs child.  We both talked about how we would want to care for our children because we weren't sure how we could trust anybody else to do it.  I no longer have that fear.  My son is 18, and at the age when a lot of kids are starting to thing of going to college and eventually getting out on their own.  Now, I can see the possibility of him moving on to a group home when school is over and I do not fear it as much as I did.
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