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I look at his being in diapers at age four as a defeat. There is a theory that children have something called a language acquisition device LAD , a process where they gain speech at a faster rate than adults.


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I worry that Sawyer will miss some magical window to use LAD to master language. Really, I want to reach the goal of normal by kindergarten. Sawyer, come use your potty chair. I prop Sawyer's Buddy doll on the potty chair. This stuffed guy with his baby face and red coveralls is ignored by Sawyer and slated for Goodwill, but I think I can put him to use. See, Buddy's a big boy. Sawyer laughs to see his doll on the potty.

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I want to show Sawyer that the potty chair is perfectly harmless and fun. But he won't sit on the chair without crying.

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Exhausted from teaching all day, I go back to work with him on the flashcards that the early childhood instructor had sent as homework. I use my teaching techniques to push Sawyer toward progress. Then Sawyer gets up and carries Buddy into the bathroom.

Sure enough, Buddy has to pee-pee. Sawyer resists even sitting on the potty, but Buddy starts going on a fairly regular basis. With Sawyer's prompting, Buddy tinkles as I pour water between his fiber-stuffed legs. Night after night, Buddy does everything Sawyer does … or rather, does it for him. Buddy goes in the high chair to eat and signs for all done.

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Sawyer defers the flashcards to Buddy. I have Buddy pick the right card and reward him with a good job! Sawyer loves that and wants Buddy to keep going. Sawyer even occasionally takes a turn, and Buddy is a big help as he gives high fives and hugs when Sawyer picks the right card, but I begin to wonder if Buddy has as much chance of talking as Sawyer.

Then one night Sawyer gets down off my lap and places Buddy on my lap as a stand-in for him. This is a spark of imaginative play I've hoped he would develop. But although I think it's sweet that Sawyer is concerned I might get lonely, I am a little upset that he is not learning from his little role model.

I don't want the pretend boy. I want my boy. But I also dream of Sawyer not having autism. My wife and I sit in the little early childhood class chairs at the first IEP meeting I attend, where I feel like I am being judged on how good a parent I am. It's not what anyone says or does; it's just how I feel. Sawyer's teacher, speech therapist, and occupational therapist all report good things.

He's doing well, his teacher says. He is learning the picture exchange program PEC quite well. So well, in fact, that when I was teaching Sawyer how to use a PEC of an apple to get an apple, he went over to someone else's desk and stole the PEC for a cookie.


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We all laugh, because Sawyer is smart and a scoundrel at times, but part of me frets because he has to learn a nonverbal form of communication. Sawyer's life becomes twenty-five hours of therapy and twelve hours of early childhood education a week.

A Cup of Comfort for Parents of Children with Autism by Colleen Sell - Read Online

This, for a boy whose whole world had been his parents and two older sisters. He balks sometimes, refusing to put on his shoes because it means riding the bus to school. The arrival of a therapist often makes Sawyer come over and swat the nearest parent and have a small tantrum. I feel for him, but I feel the pressure of time more. I know that we have to press forward.

I want to push past the situations that prevent Sawyer from normalcy and that squeeze my heart like a peeled banana in a baby's grasp. Sawyer wants so badly to be friends with kids he sees on playgrounds. But without language, he simply goes up to kids and growls at them like Simba in The Lion King , which doesn't make him too popular.

Without language, getting his desires across is difficult. I push Sawyer on our old metal swing set as I sit in front of him. I really want to stop, but because at one time, he didn't like swinging, I renew the pushes as he makes the sign for more. With every push, I want to believe that the sensation will make his autism better. Lessen the affliction. But this small task, the simple act of giving a loved one all that he wants for the moment, is powerful. These moments, with his laughter and my hands on his knees pushing him as we feel the warmth of the sun behind western clouds, are so good that it makes me believe that the future will be good.

Megan, Sawyer's therapist, asks him to point to the picture that begins with the S sound. Instead, Sawyer jumps up and points to the porch. He is not talking yet, but does things that impress us. When it rains, he stands at the window and twinkles his fingers — the sign for rain. His response to pointing to the picture that begins with P is to sprint to his bedroom to bring back a puzzle.

But it looks like Sawyer is off-base with the letter S. That is, until one of the therapists realizes that weeks ago he saw a spider on the porch. The therapists handle the flashcards now, giving my family their evenings back. The evenings are even better because Sawyer's spirit catches on fire by impressing the new women the therapists in his life.

That fire ignites my soul, like using a birthday candle to light the rest. He will repeat our names several times and seems to take joy in knowing who is with him, as we take joy in being his safe zone. He also runs around the house repeating, Ciao bella, which is Italian for Hello, beautiful. This is the other thing that taught me to take one day at a time: my son's love of silliness, learning, and his family.

If silliness, learning, and his family are enough for Sawyer, why can't it be enough for all of us? My worry of the future has turned to savoring the slow progress.

He is our last child, and without worrying about the future, I am in no hurry for him to catch up as long as he is happy. And he is happy.

At four, he is going through his terrible twos phase and is enjoying his newfound power of being oppositional. He likes to respond to requests with No way or even I'm fine. There will always be new worries. He does have some pronoun confusion, for example, saying chase you when he means chase me. He gets upset when things are not as he thinks they should be. When his ever-lounging teenage sister occasionally ventures out of her room, Sawyer demands, Tristen, upastairs! But then, I don't know what to make of her being downstairs with her boring family either. If Sawyer were not talking and not making progress, I do not know if I could believe the future would be as good.

We are the lucky ones. I cannot feel self-pity for long, even though we are in year five of changing diapers, in part because I know that my son has lesser challenges than many other children out there. It also comes from the realization that my son is not a child with an affliction but a child with autism. Here's a free youth group lesson on choices. Upload and watch Christian, funny, inspirational, music, ministry, educational, cute and videos in Espanol FREE online! We do, however, have a number of paid series that go thru the Bible pretty extensively. We must all remember, of course, that the race that we're running every day is not a literal footrace but one much bigger and more meaningful.

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