What PJ Has Learned

The adult PJ is very different from the person he was as a child. He is still handicapped by autism, but he has learned so much that I am proud of the person he has become. He has overcome a lot of obstacles and made far more progress than I would have predicted. When he was younger, there was so much focus on the “cure” that I would never have thought I could be proud of him if he still had autism.

PJ has learned to have patience. He will wait for food or whatever else he is interested in. The younger PJ would have a meltdown if everything did not happen immediately. He no longer wakes me up at 7 a.m. to cook his fries. He will hover around my bedroom door, but he will not disturb me. He either waits until I get up or he cooks them himself. He also cooks his own sausage or bacon.

He has learned to do his own grocery shopping. He always buys the same things, but he loves to go to the market. He buys his favorite items, but we did have a time when I had to let him buy maxi pads in order to not have a scene in the store. I later found out that he liked the commercial for the maxi pads because it showed flowers and waterfalls. The commercial sold him on the maxi pads.

There was a time when he would try to open everything that he picked up at the store immediately.  I would try to stop him and this always created a scene.  He was trying to open a large bag of potato chips and I was trying to stop him. The bag burst and chips went everywhere. He was protesting loudly and we were leaving a trail of chips all through the store. Of course, all eyes were on us. I quit taking him to the store after a few scenes like this.

Now he has great patience and dignity in the market. He never liked to wait in line, but now understands how to wait his turn.  He now waits until we get home to open things.  He used to open large bottles of fruit juice and try to drink them while we were in the store, but not anymore. Grocery shopping with him is no longer the embarrassing ordeal that it used to be.

If we went to a fast food restaurant and you were walking out with your french fries, PJ would snatch them from your hands before I could stop him. I heard a lot of remarks about my rude child and what a bad mother I was. Thank God for drive through! That is how I solved that problem. Now, he knows better and your fries are safe.

He has learned tolerance. He would not tolerate any noise or action that he did not like. I’ve said that he was like an old man with bad nerves. He does not like ear plugs, but wears noise canceling headphones to shut out noises that hurt his ears. (Something else that I learned from Temple Grandin).

He has learned to respect closed doors. You can hear him hovering outside the door, but he won’t open it. He has learned to take himself to time out when he needs it. He will go into his room and close the door when he needs to calm down. I also respect his closed door.

He has learned to follow directions. He used to hate for anyone to give him directions. One of the characteristics of some people with autism is that they are resistant to learning. PJ was one of those people. Now, he seems to want to learn things. Since he loves to cook and help out in the kitchen, I could give him simple directions, but when I asked him to bring me the flour, he brought me flowers.  Oh well!

The author and poet, Maya Angelou says that “When you know better, you do better”.  PJ knows better and now he does better, autism and all.

Until next time; May you have Peace, Love and Prosperity in your life.

Claudreen Jackson

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