I never know when I hear Aaron burst through the door at the end of his day, as he arrives home from his day group, just what all I will hear or what I will see. He nearly always launches right in to some detail of his day that he just can’t wait to tell me about. Sometimes it’s a funny piece of information. Sometimes it’s about an event that excites Aaron. Sometimes it’s distressing and not so exciting or funny. Sometimes he frustrates me as he tells of something he has said or done that is inappropriate. We certainly never know what a day will hold with Aaron.
While I may not know what a day will hold, I do know that often Aaron will be holding something in his hands. Or he will be digging into his pocket for an item that he has found somewhere during his time away from home. I often question how he came upon these various items. Did he really find them? Did he take them when he shouldn’t? One thing for certain is that when Aaron spies something on the ground, especially, he will stuff it in his pocket in a flash. We have had him take lots of items back to Paradigm, his day group. Things we knew that had to belong to someone, or items that he had taken off of Barb’s desk, for instance. Post-it notes…….various cords that belong to devices…….notepads……….highlighters.
A few weeks ago, the day before Gary and I were leaving for a trip to see Andrea and Andrew in Houston, I heard the door slam when Aaron came home. He thumped loudly up the stairs. “Mom?” he loudly called. “Where are you?”
He found me cleaning his bathroom. As he walked in the bathroom door, he thrust a flower toward me and unceremoniously said, “Here!” I found myself holding an Iris……a very suspicious Iris…..as I wondered just where he picked it and how much trouble did he get into and who was mad at him for picking their flower.
I cautiously thanked him for the flower, and then asked him where he got it. “I tore it off the plant,” he casually answered.
Umm, yes Aaron, that’s pretty obvious. What plant?
So he told me that there were flowers growing at a house that Paradigm owns…..a residential setting where he often goes with Bryan to work on maintenance issues. And I realized that Bryan knew about Aaron tearing off the plant, and that Aaron didn’t rip it off of some flowers growing outside of a business or whatever, and that maybe it was sort of all right. And what could I do but put it in a glass of water while Aaron proudly watched? He was trying to tell me that he would miss me while I was gone to Houston, so he tore the Iris off the plant for me. It was a mixed blessing, I guess. One that he was quite proud to have accomplished.
He recently came home carrying this:
Thankfully he and Bryan had stopped at a yard sale, so this was a legitimate purchase. So he said….
And there was the eye ball. I have no idea who might be missing an eye ball.
He finds money. This, thankfully, was on our driveway so I didn’t have to worry about where he got it.
We’ve had some behavior issues with Aaron at his day group. It came to a head when I returned home from our trip to attend my mother’s funeral. No time is a good time to deal with these things, but to be forced to handle his emotional needs when mine were so raw was difficult. I made some changes in his transportation, for one thing, and he is much happier. He’s also much happier because of something we never dreamed.
Work. He’s been helping Bryan, one of the Paradigm staff, work on residential homes that Paradigm manages. Now this week they have been working on a new building that Paradigm bought. Aaron rushed in the house to find me the other day. He held his hand up to show me this:
“I worked in a place where there were pipes and pipe parts!!” he exclaimed. So of course he picked up some of the pipe parts, slipped them on his fingers, and couldn’t wait to rush home to show me. Then he showed Gary later, repeating the story with gusto.
“I like being with Bryan in that place where there are pipes!” he told us. Who would have thought?
The next day he happily held up his hands yet again.
More pipe parts!! “Bryan is working in that pipe place again!” he said. And there was more! I was thankful that Barb had talked to me on the phone before Aaron got home. She told me that Aaron would be bringing some money home, and that no, he had not stolen it! HaHa! She knew exactly what I would assume. Paradigm paid Aaron for the hard work he did that day.
After Aaron held up his fingers full of pipe parts, he dug in his pocket and pulled out some money. It was a $10 bill! He was so proud. He told Andrea all about it later on the phone. You would think he had made a thousand dollars. The effect was just the same, regardless of the money amount.
Pride. Aaron is proud of the work that he is doing, and proud to be helping in a tangible way. He is proud of the praise he is receiving. And like Andrea said, he feels like an adult who is doing real adult work. Again, who would have thought? But it does make sense, doesn’t it? Aaron has the same needs that we have. He needs to feel worthwhile and productive.
Plus he came home very dirty that day when his fingers were so full of pipe parts. His face and arms were dirty, as were his clothes. He actually agreed to take a shower at that time of day instead of waiting until the following morning. Wonders never cease!
Well, what made him seal the decision to take a shower in the late afternoon, totally out of his routine, was this comment that I made.
Aaron, if you shower now, you won’t have to shower in the morning.
Bingo!! His eyes lit up. “I won’t have to shower in the morning?” he asked in disbelief. No shower when he’s groggy. No shower when we’re in a hurry to leave. No shower when he’d rather drink his coffee and chill on his computer.
So far, so good. He has showered before supper for two whole days. He is delighted not to shower in the morning. He is very happy that his money he earned the hard way is safely tucked in an envelope, waiting for season four of Fallen Skies to be bought.
I never dreamed that our week which began with Barb and I meeting with Aaron, talking firmly about his options and his choices, would end on such a positive note. Oh, there will be bumps in the road. There will be ups and downs, as always.
But honest work and honest rewards are something that Aaron has responded to with genuine joy. I am very thankful for that!
Aaron has the same needs that we have. He just doesn’t verbalize them like we do.
But those fingers full of pipe parts and that smile on his face tells us all we need to know.