Everyone keeps asking how Seth did at movie night and how I ended up handling it. Well, it turns out that, in the end, I'm not even the one who handled it at all.
God showed me that I have two very capable younger sons who are learning to handle the challenges that this life will throw them even without my help. This is obviously always the objective, but when you see it in action . . . well, let's just say that my heart felt two sizes too big for my chest Friday night.
Joel came with me to take Seth to the school. With his pillow in hand and snack money in his pocket, Seth was more than excited for movie night. It was overwhelming for him when we walked in (very loud and chaotic), but he handled it well, looking around for someone from his class to sit with. He found one boy, but this little boy was far more interested in interacting with another child. I was nervous and my mama heart was doing flip flops.
I questioned Seth over and over, "Will you be okay . . . Are you sure you want to stay . . . Is this where you want to sit?" on and on, while he kept saying that he would be fine. But his face was telling a different story. He looked apprehensive, but I could tell that he really wanted to be able to do this.
I looked at Joel with, probably, an incredibly worried look on my face, to which Joel replied, "Mom, I think I need to stay with him." Joel's reaction to things like this is always to make the situation right, and I think he may have been even more worried than I was. I replied, "No, we just need to . . . we just need to . . ." and Joel finished my sentence, "have faith?" Yes, that's what I was looking for - faith. And it was coming from my 10-year-old to me instead of the other way around.
I turned around, kissed Seth and went over the rules once more and what he should do if he became afraid or upset about something. And then Joel and I walked out.
But not too far, you see. We stood behind a glass wall to watch him for a few minutes to make sure he was okay. And he was, only he was still virtually alone - and I could hardly stand it. "I just don't want him to be alone ..." and I turned around to see Joel's face looking exactly how I was feeling.
"Mom, I have to stay with him. I can't leave him like this." So we walked back in and Seth was fine, but relieved to see us again after thinking we had left. I asked him if he would like for Joel to stay with him, and he replied, "Joel, you will think this movie is SO COOL."
As I walked out, I turned back once more to see them sitting together on the floor, Joel's arm around his little autistic brother, not caring that he was the oldest kid there or that he really wasn't supposed to be there in the first place. He just knew that he wanted to make sure that Seth got to go to movie night and that he would be okay while he was there.
That's Joel's side of the story. Seth's side of the story started when we picked them up. When Sean and I got there, Seth had his face buried in Joel's chest, upset but trying to hide it. Joel said he'd been like that only a minute or so. As we left, Seth didn't want to talk about it, so we didn't push it, instead chatting with Joel about the movie.
Normally if Seth is upset about something, he let's us ALL know. He'll kick something, throw something, spout out some less-than-nice words. We are working on this, but he has a hard time with impulse control when he can't process through an upsetting situation. However, this time, he was drawing on something from within, which is not like him at all.
It was a good 20 minutes before he literally smiled and said, "Oh tarter sauce!" (SpongeBob's way of saying "darn it!") He then proceeded to say quite matter-of-factly, "They (at movie night) gave away movies and I wanted one. Tarter sauce!" and that was that.
No big deal, you say? Well, it's HUGE. He ran into something he couldn't process right away (kids getting a prize, but he didn't), it made him upset, but he worked through it himself, came out the other side and resolved the issue within his mind. HUGE. HUGE!! Not only is he beginning to recognize inappropriate behavior (kept it to himself at the school, didn't want to talk about it), but he had the desire to work through it on his own, did it, and then we all walked away unscathed! That was a major step forward for him - and for us.
God has brought him so far that some days I think he's going to walk right out of this autism diagnosis! I know, one day at a time ...
I'm so proud of both of them. God bypassed me altogether and worked straight through them!