Let’s do some real life together today, shall we? My family’s reality probably looks a little different than most. That’s because we have a precious little boy who has Autism. Today I am sharing some real life pictures that help to explain some of our day-to-day “normal”. Our Ezra is an amazing little boy! He is my “little puzzle” and each day I have the wonderful opportunity to learn from him and learn more about him
Ezra’s “thing” is trains. It is very common for a child with Autism to become attached to a particular character or interest. Ezra loves to line his trains up. He always puts them in a particular order, has to have them lined up perfectly, and will literally spend hours reconfiguring their order and placement. Also notice the bare feet! Ezra has Sensory Integration Disorder and struggles to keep shoes or socks on for very long-they are too constricting. Have you ever seen a mom with a barefoot child in cold weather and mentally judged her for not properly covering her child’s feet? Have you ever stopped to think that there may be a reason that she just absolutely cannot keep shoes and socks on his/her feet?
Ezra spends a lot of time sitting in the bathtub…without water…with his clothes on. There is something about the tight space and tall walls that calms him. When Ezra becomes overwhelmed, many times he will take himself to go sit in the bathtub. He doesn’t generally take toys with him. He just sits. And the simplicity of the solid color walls and closed in space soothes his sensory overloaded mind!
Ezra likes to study objects from very different angles. This is a form of “stimming”. Stimming is one of the symptoms of Autism. It is a repetitive body movement that self-stimulates one or more senses in a regulated manner.
Ezra can ride a bike too! With the help of Ezra’s AmTryke, Ezra gets to ride his bike along with his big sister. There are special straps that help to secure him in his seat and straps that keep his feet from slipping off of the pedals. There are also special straps that hold his hands on the handle bars but he is just not ready for that yet…and he is not yet willing to let go of the trains in his hand! The AmTryke has a bar that extends from the back so that we can push him. We have faith that one day Ezra will be able to ride a bike all on his own!
Ezra loves to play in water…even muddy water! We encourage this sort of sensory input, especially because for so long he was absolutely terrified to get any dirt on him. To some, this is just a cute picture of a kid in a mud puddle, but to us, this is a victory!
This is Ezra’s very special bed. It zips up completely and the zipper is on the outside. This is for his safety. Ezra is unable to sleep in an open, standard bed. When put in a “regular” bed, he jumps all night and is unable to bring himself to go to sleep. Ezra also tries to elope. (Both insomnia and elopement are typical with many children who are “on the spectrum”) Ezra finds comfort in his cozy bed and will often times “request” to be zipped in so he can calm down and give himself rest.
I love this picture. Besides the fact that it is just sweet, this picture represents Connection. It is often times hard for Ezra to make eye contact, let alone to allow someone into “his world”. We captured this precious moment this last week. The key to making a connection with Ezra is to make yourself available. We usually are most able to make a connection with Ezra when we lay on the floor. Then, he will usually come and sit near us. Connection is not something you can force. Connection happens by patiently pursuing and by waiting for Ezra to invite you “in”.
I am no Autism expert, but I have learned that the key to life “on the spectrum” is letting go of “normal” and embracing the unexpected, sometimes crazy, very special life that the Lord has blessed us with. These little snapshots of our life give just a glimpse into our every-day “normal”.