I seem to be making a habit of starting off blog post with saying how sorry I am that I have not posted in a while. I guess it is a good thing as it means I have been getting some actually paying writing jobs. Anyway today something happened that well… I needed to blog about as it would take more than a Facebook status to get the whole story out. And this my friends is a story worth telling. I PROMISE!
To the outside world this thing I am about to tell you about may not seem huge. BUT to us… you know the members of the Autism club, well it is beyond HUGE, which I am sure there is an actual word for but I am on 4 hours of sleep and just cannot find it right now. Are you ready for me to tell you what happened? Hold your hats folks as I am going to blow your mind with this one…
MY BOY ATE TOAST!
I know it is newspaper worthy! Actually for our family it really is. Let me back track and explain this significance.
Jay was 3 and we were just going through the process of figuring out what was going on. Actually I had no clue there was anything wrong but his preschool teachers insisted that my beautiful brilliant boy who was already reading books on a 2nd grade level be tested. Yes he was quirky, but aren’t all geniuses? Sure he only ate about 5 different foods, but hey he was eating and that was what mattered right? Okay maybe the way he would dive under the table if he heard a firetruck siren, meltdown in a puddle of tears if his crayon broke, refuse to walk on grass because it felt icky… maybe these things seemed odd… but I was an actress at one time so why wouldn’t I have a dramatic child, right?
So we took him to the child development center and began evaluations. Since he was so young they had to break it up over a three week period. I would take him to school, go home and take care of my new baby at the time, then go back and pick him up at lunch time to take him over to the development center for a 30 minute session of play that although my boy enjoyed, left me scratching my head as to how this would give us any insight into my child. I was scared. I was baffled. I was in denial.
About two weeks into the evaluations I started hearing the therapist throw around words like sensory integration, autism, developmentally delayed. I became more scared, more baffled even more in denial.
The evals ended and the scores were added up. Although my boy did show many signs of autism, because he was so verbal, because he made eye contact and interacted, they did not slap that label on him yet. Instead they said it was Sensory Integration Disorder and major fine and gross motor skill delays. They also said that his jaw muscles were week and that is why he did not want to eat. OT, PT and Speech were suggested and very quickly became part of our regular routine.
The OT and PT were fine, I could see where the deficits were and my son seemed to respond very well to what they were doing. Speech therapy on the other hand was torture for my boy. My boy had no interest in being exposed to different textures, sensations and flavors. I knew it was important to do this but as a mom it killed me to see him get so upset.
One day I picked up my happy boy at school ready to take him over to therapy and noticed he had a piece of tape over his mouth. The teacher quickly explained how he had done this when she told him to pack his bag. When she asked him why he took the tape from her desk and did that, he responded, “So I don’t have to try new foods.” I eventually convinced him to take the tape off by telling him that he did not have to eat the foods… I just wanted him to smell them, touch them, maybe just put it in his mouth and spit it out. My thinking was that this would be a start and this was exactly what I told the therapist when I saw her. She told me not to worry that they were only going to try plain toast and that everyone LOVES toast once they taste it. She enticed Jay into the room by telling him she was going to teach him the YEAH TOAST song and dance. My boy left my side with a look of concern. I felt the need to go with him, but the therapist assured me it was just TOAST not even butter on it, he would be fine.
I played with baby Gracie in the waiting room trying to hear what was happening in the other room. Suddenly a crazy sounding song could be heard. The baby laughed and giggled, I laughed and giggled, JAY CRIED! The door flew open and Jay ran into my arms saying NO TOAST! The therapist came rushing out shaking her head. “I don’t understand.” she said. “I have never seen any child refuse to eat toast like that. He is very defiant. If you don’t do something you will always have problems with him. Why don’t you join us and we will try again.”
I looked down at my boy who was hugging my leg. I bent down and held his chubby precious face between my two palms and asked him what the problem was. ” I am not ready to try toast mama! No Yeah Toast!” And with that it it all suddenly made sense. I did not care what label they slapped on boy, what all the so called experts said we should do or not do. From that point on I was going to take my cue from my boy. He would do things on his agenda, when he was ready. Some how I just knew this about this child. SO I put the baby back in her stroller, grabbed his hand and started walking towards the door.
Just as we are about to exit the door the therapist asked if we would be back. I turned around and simply said, “NO YEAH TOAST!” We found a different therapist after that who understood and never ever tried to make my baby eat toast if he did not want it.
So here we are, 9 years later and honestly I had forgotten all about that day until my son asked me for toast today at breakfast. My heart skipped a beat when he asked. I guess he thought I did not hear him because he asked again. “I think I would like to try a piece of toast with my eggs today mom. It is part of a well balanced breakfast you know. Just plain toast though and please don’t toast it too much, okay?” As I put the toast in the toaster making sure it did not get too done all the memories of that day so many years ago flooded back. With a tear in my eye I handed my son his breakfast and then sat down with him. I wondered how much he remembered from that day so long ago but was afraid to ask. I did not need to because after he took a bite he put his thumb up and said, “YEAH TOAST!” I ran over to the computer and found the YEAH TOAST song and the two of us danced in the kitchen laughing hysterically.
My boy ate toast today. On his own time, his way. And that my friends is definitely newspaper worthy! YEAH TOAST!