We’ve been very encouraged lately to see Aaron in mostly good moods at his day group, Paradigm. He had some very discouraging struggles over the last few months of 2016, but now it’s like he’s turned over a new leaf. We certainly pray that it lasts. Perfection? No, of course not, but he’s been far happier than he’s been in a long time.
Honestly, one reason may be that we did reluctantly increase one of his drugs he takes for his autistic behaviors. I think it has helped to calm him. With this increased calmness, then, has come the ability to relate better to the people in his surroundings.
Aaron loves helping. He would rather be out somewhere helping with shopping or errands at his day group than to go on most of their activities. The smaller group is more suited to Aaron, but the helping itself also does something for his ego, too…..in a positive way.
We’ve been praising him for helping Amy, who works at Paradigm, with shopping at Sam’s or WalMart for Paradigm supplies. We praise him for helping Brandy or Barb with work at one of the Paradigm residential settings. Aaron, like any of us, thrives when he is commended. And for all of us, it’s wonderful to be praising Aaron rather than to be fussing at Aaron.
His personal relationships with Paradigm clients have been mostly better lately, as well. Take his friend, A, for instance. She is usually Aaron’s nemesis, and he hers. There is much bad blood between them. But this week Aaron had a taco that came with his meal from Taco Bueno……and he gave it to A!! Today Barb sent me a picture of Aaron hugging A!!!
All which goes to show that when Aaron is happy, everybody is happy!
Getting Aaron happy, though, can be tricky.
And there’s something else. Getting Aaron happy first thing in the morning can be virtually impossible. That’s why this morning was such a shock, and worthy of a blog.
It started last night, when Aaron saw me carrying two pink AMVETS donation bags down to our guest bedroom. He asked what I was doing, so I told him that I was preparing donation bags for AMVETS.
“I’ll carry them out for you!” he enthusiastically offered. But I thanked him and then told him that I wouldn’t be taking the bags out until morning.
“What time are you taking them out?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I answered. “Just sometime in the morning.”
“What time?” he asked again.
“I don’t know an exact time,” I replied, knowing how Aaron loves exact times.
“What time?” he patiently repeated.
I knew that Aaron would need an exact time or he would go to bed still asking me what time I was carrying AMVET bags outside!!
“OK,” I said. “Probably around 7:45.”
“So, 7:45,” Aaron confirmed.
“Well, maybe not EXACTLY 7:45,” I said, “but sometime around there.”
I was sitting at the kitchen table this morning. 7:45 had come and gone. I hadn’t taken the bags out yet. I heard Aaron on the monitor, up in his bedroom, stirring and then getting out of bed. Before long, he came down the stairs and into the kitchen. I looked up and saw right away that he had put on his tennis shoes, still wearing his pajamas, and I knew right away why.
“Mom?” he asked first thing. “Have you taken the bags out?”
“No,” I said with a smile. “But let’s do it right now.”
Aaron, who usually isn’t very chipper in the mornings and likes to talk about how he doesn’t feel well, turned and put on his jacket. Then he followed me happily to the guest bedroom, took two bags, and carried them out to the end of the driveway. He came back and carried a small table out for me. Then we were done and Aaron went about the rest of his morning.
I was pretty amazed. I thanked Aaron, but not in a way that was too exuberant. Aaron doesn’t like excessive exuberance. He can be excessively exuberant, but no one else usually can. We’ve learned this about Aaron.
I’m a realist, born of experience with Aaron. But I am, at the moment, a very happy realist. I pray that Aaron continues down this helpful path, learning how much fun it is to be needed. We all love being needed, don’t we?
Aaron really is no different than the rest of us, despite his glaring differences that at times show outwardly. His heart desires praise and love and usefulness, just like mine.
He also desires…..eating out.
I think I’m seeing a Friday night plan taking shape.