Michael has been sick this week and it’s been awful. He was sick enough that he couldn’t do therapy, but not sick enough that he did anything lovely like sleep in or relax in bed. He was active and actually in a pretty good mood most of the time, just totally refused to do anything useful. I even had to stop put his ‘trying new foods’ program on hold because he would just vomit up most things that I was trying to introduce immediately (suspicious? Very.)
What made it worse is that of course my husband and I were sick as well. So we had this awful household of sick, tired, irritated people that just wanted to tear their noses/chests out and leave them on the shelf for a while.
I did get one wonderful, ray of sunshine moment out of it though.
You see ABA therapy is a lifestyle. It is not something that you do for five hours or six hours a day and then turn it off and live your life.
We do ABA therapy from when he wakes up to when he falls asleep.
We use it to feed him breakfast – encouraging him to try new foods, increase the amount of new food he eats, fade the prize etc.
We use it at the playground, to make sure he tries something other than the swing or running backwards and forwards.
We use it to encourage him to play with/somewhere in the vicinity of/other children.
And of course there’s the usual five hours a day six days a week variety.
So this week we gave him lots of time off and it was interesting to see what life may have been like for us without therapy.
I remember when my husband and I first saw the movie ‘Inside Out’ it made us cry. I’m sure that happens to everyone but with us it was an unusual scene – it was the scene with the little girl making happy memories with her parents. She was learning hockey – happy memory. She was playing with her mum – happy memory. So many happy memories and we cried because we didn’t know if Michael would have that.
This was right at the beginning of his therapy so many things were unclear but we were pretty sure that he wouldn’t be spending much time playing outside with us or learning hockey.
What would his ‘happy memories’ be, we wondered? If he ever does remember this age (he’s two, so that’s pretty unlikely) what will he remember? The five hours per day of sitting in a room imitating ‘touch your head?’ The ‘kick ball’ procedure that he wasn’t remotely interested in? Doing the ring stacker over and over?
I knew it was the right thing to do early intervention, I just thought of it as ‘long term happiness over short term misery’.
And after a week of no therapy and total rest I can tell you I was wrong.
It was fun to just be able to go to the park with no pressure. To just go to the plaza and let him run around for as long as he wanted, or let him sit and watch cartoons while eating his favourite food.
But he was so difficult. It wasn’t because he was unwell, because he was his usual sunny self most of the time. He just wasn’t interested in anything and he got so incredibly bored! He didn’t feel like trying new things but when he wasn’t trying new things he would get over the old things very quickly and then have nothing to do.
You know when you put on the TV and your partner doesn’t like anything and starts to change all the channels and you end up hitting them on the head with the remote and staying at your mother’s for a week? This was like that, but all day, every day, for a week!
We’re getting back into therapy slowly again, and I can now see that there will be many happy memories of this period when I look back at it. Probably when Michael hits puberty and I’m really trying to remember a time when I was happy and he liked me.
I will remember the look of pride and huge grin he gets when he makes progress on a new program.
I will remember the laughter when we do ‘giddy up horsey’ or play ‘hide and seek’.
I will remember him lying down in my lap and trying to get me to do ‘Incey Wincey Spider’ by staring at me as hard as he can.
I will remember one of the many times we played ‘aeroplane’ with him and he laughed so hard he nearly fell over.
And I will remember how irritating and bored he was when he stopped doing it for a week, and got to do whatever he wanted.
I will hopefully also remember to build a shrine to all the therapists that have helped me make him so happy. And maybe canonize them. I think you have to do that first.
Thank you guys!