For sometime now, certain behaviors Maya has been displaying have been continuing and even building. And, they are -to say the least -quite annoying.
The school she attends runs from September to the beginning of June -four days a week, Tuesday thru Thursday. When the regular schools here let out in early June, her school takes about a four week break too. Then it resumes, right after the Fourth of July, runs for about three more weeks, or so with another break then in August before it restarts again in September and follows pretty much the normal school schedule.
From Day 1 last September until somewhere in April, Maya loved -absolutely LOVED going to school. She made friends there, began to develop a few more social skills and was learning all kinds of things from more words to add to her vocabulary, songs -which she entertains anyone and everyone who rides in a car with her now -along with some other necessary things too -such as potty training. I'm not going to go into a long, drawn out description of some of the events that have transpired with the potty training as I think I've pretty well covered most of those stories before but, when she started attending school, she was not potty trained -at all. Six weeks later, on her fourth birthday as a matter of fact, I got a phone call from her teacher telling me that Maya had something to tell me. (The fact that her teacher said Maya wanted to tell me something on the phone was quite a surprise because at that time, she would run and hide, or just repeat "No, No" if you asked her to speak to someone on the telephone. So you can imagine my shock when Maya came on the line and I asked her what she wanted to tell me and her response was "I pee in de potty, Gram!" Granted, her voice ws really small, very soft, shy sounding in that little sentence but let me just say, here and now, that was such a milestone -times two really -that I wept. Yes indeed, I did! Just hearing her speak on the phone and then to tell me she had actually used the potty at school was very big, very exciting news for me and for the entire family, for that matter.
After that breakthrough, she has had a few accidents from time to time of the "pee variety" but generally, she has done very well. Now, getting her to do anything else involving sitting on the potty -well, that's been a horse of a different color, entirely. She flatly refuses, gets really agitated and upset, even launches on occasion into a meltdown when we try to suggest that she use the potty for another purpose.
Back in April though, the teacher and aides decided to try to work on this deficiency, to push her a little harder to get her completely trained and it was shortly after those efforts began that she started telling us almost every evening at supper that she wasn't going to go to school the next day, that she didn't like school. Around that time the school had also made some other changes in her schedule and had been integrating her in with another class, a little older kids, a little more advanced too and those kids class time ended around 12:30 p.m. at which time Maya then went back to her original class group.
We're really not sure to this day which aspect may be the one that gave her the idea that she didn't like school -could have been the staff pushing her on the potty training stuff because she really does respond very poorly to those suggestions or it could have been the schedule changes too because the teacher reported she began to cry often after the other group was dismissed for the day and she had to stay for another two hours then. She kept asking them if it was time for her to go home too.
With the four week break we just had -of no school -we were concerned that when the classes picked up again now, she might really regress during that time and refuse or be really, really difficult and contrary about getting up, getting dressed and ready to go to school again.
Thankfully, it was only on July 8th -her first day back attending school -that she was fussy about going to school again, telling Mandy she didn't want to go, didn't want to get dressed, got really picky about what clothes she wanted to wear and as such, when the van arrived to pick her up, she was a bit on the crabby side, to say the least. However, "Mr. Fred" -the van driver -reported to Mandy when he brought her home that afternoon that shortly after getting into the van, she launched into her singing routines and sang the entire ride over to Clearfield that morning and also, on the return trip back home in the afternoon. He got to hear pretty much her entire repertoire that day. Since then, the whining about "not liking school" and telling us she isn't going to go to school the next day have pretty much disappeared.
We have another issue now too though with her and that is trying to get her to pick up her toys -which she normally has scattered all over the living room floor, with a few making their way to cover the dining room floor as well. Telling her to pick up her toys has really become just as much a battle lately as trying to get her to sit on the potty to "put poopie in there" has been all along! Asking her to pick up toys or telling her flat out to pick up toys will get a response of "NO!" or a whining "No" or "I can't do that" or "I don't wanna do that." Actually, just about anything we tell her lately is met with a "no" response. Seems to be the standard answer there to everything.
Yesterday, when my little great-niece, Lizzie, was here and I asked Maya to pick up some things she had just deliberately thrown on the floor, she gave me a "NO" with a lot of attitude in her voice too -very, very sassy, smart-mouthed, if you follow what I mean there. Most anything we say lately or ask her about, her response is going to be the exact opposite of what you want to hear from her. Argumentative is a good description of how she's been acting for quite some time now. At times, if I can think of something I know she really likes or wants to do, if I can ask her about it in a "reverse psychology" type manner, and even if she does answer the way we want then, that still doesn't mean she's going to do what you want without a major hassle anyway. I've been telling Mandy if she keeps up with this argument-style of talking, maybe by the time she gets in high school and if they have a debate team in the school then, she would be a great candidate for something like that.
When my kids were of the age to display a lot of obstinance like this, all I generally had to do was to tell them I was going to count to three and they KNEW if they didn't start moving by the time I hit the number two that if I had to say the word "Three" they were in for punishment. So they generally adhered pretty well to those rules but Maya -even though she has been able to count since she was 2 1/2 years old -does not respond at all to a counting to three threat.
ME: "PIck up your toys, Maya."
Maya: "No, no. I can't do that. You help me?"
ME: "WHo put the toys on the floor?"
Maya: "I did."
ME: "Did anyone else help you put the toys there?"
Maya: "No. I did it."
ME: "Then you can pick them up too."
Maya: "No, no, I can't!"
Sometimes, if I tell her I need her to pick toys up and hand them to me, I will help her that way, but she has to pick them up so Grammy doesn't have to walk around the living room and dining room all hunched over and bent and then, I have a lot of pain and difficulty standing up straight again. Sometimes, a threat that if Grammy or Mommy has to pick the toys up, they are going into the garbage will, once in a blue moon, get some results but she's already well entrenched in her quest to surpass Grammy at procrastinating about doing this task! And tonight was no exception in that respect either.
It took a good bit of telling her, over and over, that it was time to pick up the toys, put them away and threats that they would be going into the garbage if she didn't follow through, but finally -after almost two hours of this -she did get them all picked up then.
By that time, it was time for her -and for Kurtis -to get a bath and Daddy took them both in to put them in the tub and give them a good scrubbing so neither of them will look like a pair of scruffball orphans in the morning. After getting her bath, getting her pj's on and such, (also having had a little dose of melatonin in her night snack of pudding -same as Kurtis gets then) she was a little more docile, ready then to go to bed.
The normal bedtime routine then is that she goes to each of us to give a good night hug and kiss and when she came to me, Mandy told her she needed to apologize to Grammy for being so bad tonight about picking up her toys. "Tell Gram you're sorry you were bad tonight," were Mandy's instructions to her as she came to me, arms open to give me a big hug and a kiss. And she did say that to me but I couldn't understand her initially, so I asked her to repeat what she had said and then, she said it again "Sorry, being bad tonight, I 'polgize, Gram!" It even warranted her giving me another hug and this time, accompanied by two big kisses!
It was obvious she was tired and did want to go to her bed, but here again -kind of like the kids who keep asking for "Another story." or another "drink" she wanted to know if she could sleep with her mother. Mandy told her no, she had to go to her bed and then, the question became "You lay with me?" And so, that was close enough for Mandy's purposes to get her upstairs, into her bed and I haven't heard or seen hide nor hair from either of them since then -about 9 p.m.!
Once in her bed, she has one more routine there too that we have been trying to teach her and that is to say her prayers. She's doing quite well with that and says "Now I Lay Me" very nicely, along with another little evening prayer Mandy taught her before she launches into her "God Blesses" routine. Doing that, she manages to name just about everyone she knows now, along with several family members she was familiar with like my dear Aunt Mike (her great-great-aunt who passed away the end of April) and she "blesses" her along with Aunt Mike's daughter, Jane Ann, who is severely mentally and physically challenged and who Maya knows lives in the nursing home too. She also "blesses" Andre, Uncle Clayton's dog that died two years ago, Gracie, our 16 year old cat who died in April as well as her other Grandmother who died in June before Maya was born -and remembers too that they are all "in heaven" now as well.
And listening to her on the occasions I may be the one to put her to bed and hear her prayers, always reminds me of when my older daughter was learning her nightly prayers too. It was the summer when she had just turned three years old and she and my mother had spent about two months that summer here at the house, with my Mom's older sister and her husband while I worked in Phoenix for the entire month of July and then stayed in our apartment alone for the month of August that year. It was during those months that Carrie got to know the couple who lived next door to us -Mr and Mrs. Little -the people who had raised 13 children and by that time, had close to 60 grandchildren and who took all little children under their wings and into their hearts -and Carrie loved them. When she would say her prayers and do the "God Blesses" she would always say it as "And God Bless Misser and Misser Little" -no distinction in her pronuncation between Mister and Mrs. For years, that was how Mom and I referred to that couple -"Misser and Misser Little" and even when my son and Mandy came along and it was time for them to learn their evening prayers, they were then taught "God Bless Misser and Misser Little" too!
Maya of course has no knowledge of that couple but among the people she names in her "Blesses" are "Aunt Helen Ann," "Charmaine, Annie and Jeanne and Jim" -Aunt Helen being one of Misser and Misser Little's daughters and Charmaine, Annie, Jeanne being three of the grandchildren, Jim is Charmaine's husband and she also includes the Little's granddaughter, Aunt Lou Ann, her daughter Angie and Angie's children, Isaac, Lizzie and Gracie -two more generations of the Little family as well because they are Maya's great-aunt, and her cousins.
And that's what Grammie's bad little good girl does when she goes to bed at night and always after having shared a big hug, big kisses with all the family before retiring too!
Now, who says autistic kids are not able to show love and emotion? Not me!