Having children is an exciting time. We wait for all the milestones to be reached. Walking, talking, potty training, interacting with others, developing interests, etc. And we celebrate those milestones. We take pictures of the first steps, we record the first words, we share the milestones with family and friends. We talk about how our sweet little bundles of joy are navigating pre-school and how they are learning so many new things, like reading and writing.
Steve and I were talking last night about some of Brandon’s milestones and how proud we are of him for the things he has accomplished. Brandon has done these in his time and with lots and lots of work. One of the things we realized early on was that Brandon’s timetable was very different from what all the parenting books said. Will Brandon ever drive a car? Probably not. But he has done some pretty incredible things that seem to come so easy for others. Warning…there will be talk of peeing and pooping.
Getting Brandon to the point of being fully potty trained took years. This is not uncommon in children with autism. He was 8 years old before this happened. He wore diapers and pull ups until he was 6. I don’t fully remember when he decided to urinate in the toilet, but it was around the age of 7. We were so excited and I remember thinking pooping in the toilet couldn’t be far behind. Right? Nope.
When Brandon would poop, he would smear his feces. It got worse and worse. It would be everywhere. Steve would go in and clean the floor and the walls. I would clean Brandon. It was not pleasant, but it had to be done. One night, Steve yelled for me because there was more smearing. We moaned and groaned about it and I then decided that Brandon should be helping to clean up his mess. We got him some gloves, some wipes, and told him to start cleaning. This did not go over well and it took over an hour, but we stuck to it. After the third time doing this, Brandon started pooping in the toilet. And that was it. He has not pooped in his room or smeared since that time. The first time he pooped in the toilet was a HUGE celebration!!!!
Water Water Water
Brandon loves water. He loves his bath time. When he was little, he would get in the tub and turn the water on and just sit in the water. He would do this multiple times per day. While we appreciated his love of water and how calming it is for him, we did not appreciate him putting the stopper in the drain and overflowing the tub. This happened a lot.
We knew the overflowing of the tub was causing damage, but we weren’t sure how to stop him from getting in the tub. Our solution was to lock the bathroom door at all times. Our other sons knew how to unlock it, but Brandon did not. We eventually started leaving the door unlocked occasionally and Brandon eventually learned to not get in the tub without telling us. We finally had our bathroom remodeled a few years ago and the entire subfloor had to be replaced because of all the water damage. We knew the floor was “soft”, but we had no idea it was as bad as it was. Now, Brandon takes a bath/shower every night and he knows when to turn the water off. Woo Hoo!!!!
Haircuts were the bane of our existence for years. Brandon hated getting his haircut. We thought maybe it was the sound of the clippers, so we tried scissors. He hated that, too. Haircuts were absolutely horrible. We would have to physically restrain Brandon to get near his hair. Grandma and Grandpa tried taking him to a salon with no success. We tried bribing him with everything he loves….Skittles, Taco Bell, baths…nothing worked. We tried letting his hair grow, but the longer hair bothered Brandon. He didn’t seem to understand that the haircut was the way to get rid of the longer hair.
When Brandon was 11, I took him with me (again) when his brother was getting his hair cut. Brandon was anxious, but he watched his brother get his hair cut. I then asked the stylist if Brandon could sit in the chair. She was absolutely lovely and let him sit in the chair, she showed him the clippers so he could touch them, and she let him smell all the lotions and hairsprays. This was the farthest we had ever gotten. I took pictures of everything so I could show them to Brandon at home. I made an appointment for Brandon for the following week with the same stylist.
I prepped Brandon the day of the appointment. We looked at the pictures and we talked about what was going to happen. I took Skittles with me and promised him Taco Bell after his hair was cut. And it worked!! It took a bit longer than it does now, and we discovered he does not like to wear the cape. I gave him a couple of Skittles every couple of minutes that he was sitting still. And we had Taco Bell when his hair was nice and trim. We told anyone who would listen about his haircut success! We have not had one problem with haircuts since that day. He still does not like to wear the cape and he always gets Taco Bell after. And his order is always the same…six crunchy tacos with meat and cheese only.
Talking about this with Steve last night helped us realize just how far Brandon has come. Sometimes, we need that reminder. This is a very short list of what Brandon has been able to accomplish. I think there will need to be a part 2 (and 3 and 4 and 5).