Tuesday, August 28, 2012

If You Need to Know How To Get Around the City You Can Ask My Son

My kids shock me almost every single day.  They are always sharing interesting insight on something, giving cute and candid kid advice, or just being themselves.  I almost expect the things that come out of my girls' mouths, and maybe I'm a little biased because I'm a girl.  My son is the one who definitely shocks me the most.  He's autistic. I can still remember when her was almost two and  he didn't walk or talk.  I still remember those first home visits from the therapists.  There were honestly moments where I was sure that he would never be able to learn.  Not only because of his disabilities but because of his behavior.  It was so difficult during those days where I couldn't leave him alone even for a minute because he might just do the unimaginable.  Preschool was like a cruel joke.  I still have a letter from the school counselor saying that she thought he was schizophrenic. Pre-k was mostly the same except no letter.  It wasn't until he started kindergarten that things really started to turn around.  I attribute a lot of the change in him to his teacher (who retired last year) and the school support staff.  And they in turn gave us a lot of credit for making him into a model student.



Kindergarten definitely went better than I ever thought it would.  By the time the last parent teacher conferences of the year rolled around Dad was so surprised.  He was writing reports, doing addition and subtraction, and learning about science.  He still had a lot of the same behavior issues but there was weekly therapy for that and breaks during the school day as well.  He would come home and tell us the most interesting stories about the class turtle, Martin Luther King, or the library.

Now he has always loved cars and trains.  What little boy doesn't?  I would assume that most little boys love Thomas.  But my son's obsession with trains goes way beyond the norm.  There are days when we are just going for a walk and he wants to take the train to get to the next block. He gets upset when we take the bus instead of the train.  A car ride instead of the train is asking for trouble.  Any train will do the 2 train, the A train, the Metro North, or the Long Island Railroad.

Since we have a teenager who goes to school in another borough we keep a few transit maps around the house in case we need them.  There have been a few times that I've caught my son studying the train map.  I never really gave it much thought though.  Didn't really think that he even knew what he was looking at.  It kept him calm and quiet and that was good enough for me. 

One day my son missed his bus or they left him (that has happened) and he was distraught.  Luckily my sixteen year old was still home so I bribed her into taking him to school.  They had enough time to take the train and he learned that day that there was a train station right behind his school. The next time he missed the bus there wasn't enough time to take the train and her still get to school on time so they took a cab.  As soon as she got to school my daughter called me to tell me that he asked if they could get out and take the train the entire time.  Well thank goodness we don't live that far from his school.

Then came summer camp when he got to go on at least two trips a week.  We would come home and tell me that he went to the bowling alley on 42 street. Yep 42 and not 42nd because that's how he talks he's only 6.  But the bowling alley on 42 street wasn't open so they ended up going to the one on 126th street.  He starting giving the 16 year old directions to pick up their 10 year old sister who was in camp all the way downtown. Now when I say he gave directions,  he could tell her which train to get on, which stop to get off at the bus to take and what street to get off on.  On the weekends he was giving us directions to places he had never even been before it was puzzling but funny.  I sometimes hear him wonder out loud when he sees a bus number that he doesn't recognize if it's a bus from another borough.  All of the places that we go even if we've only been once he knows where they're located and what routes you can take to get there.  Pretty amazing all things considered, I have a 16 year old who sometimes has no clue where she is going even if she been there before.