I got the idea for this blog post from a book titled "Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew" by: Ellen Notbohm. Many people don't understand the differences in each child with Autism .... plus, the child might have Autism ... but Autism doesn't define the child themselves..... (yes, the book defines 10 traits/characteristics of children with Autism., but I wanted to do a more positive spin on it).
These are ten, very important things to know about Ashton .... (btw, I have been working on this particular post for about two days now.....)
1. He's a very sweet and loving boy. Almost to a fault. I know.... some parents of autistic children never hear a spoken word from their child. Nor do they ever get the first sign of affection and adoration from their child. Well, we definitely do! Constant hugs and kisses and "I love you too"s! It's very sweet and endearing.... and I do truly LOVE it. He's truly connected with his family, teachers, peers and friends and I'm very grateful for his social connectedness.
2. He loves to watch TV and movies! Again, to a fault..... that's all he does sometimes! And if he's not watching them, he's talking about them, or quoting them.... NON STOP! Current favorites are: "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs", "9", "Earth", "Iron Man", "Hulk", "Ben 10: Alien Force", "Super Hero Squad Show", "Spongebob Square pants", and many others ... Unfortunately, Ashton also knows how to use the TV/DVR/DVD remote..... and if we make that inaccessible (by removing the batteries, putting them in backwards, hiding the remote, etc), he's learned how to use the buttons on the DVR and the DVD players. He will watch what he wants to watch .... the only good thing is... without the remotes, he can't fast-forward, rewind, or pause what he's watching. But, he's freakishly fast at controlling the players. He'll look around to see if anyone is watching and then speeds through the guide/menus to get to what he wants and then rushes back to the couch. Sneaky turkey!
3. Ashton loves his hair "short, with a little bit of hair". That's what he asks for everytime he goes to get his hair cut. I've learned (from the self hair-cutting incident in December) that when he starts pulling at his hair, etc that it's time for a cut. Basically, it's a buzz cut, or a military-style cut. Right now he's sporting a marine cut! It makes me sad he won't let his hair grow out more... he's got such thick, shiny, and soft hair! But because I don't want to deal with an odd-ball cut because of him trying to cut his hair, I get it cut as soon as I start to see the signs. Maybe at some point he'll let it grow out a bit, but for now.... this is much better.
4. He does not like it when his brother gets fussed at or punished. If I punish Holden by sending him to his room or standing him in the corner, Ashton is right there, to rescue him. We haven't figured out what exactly he doesn't like, but Ashton will usually clap and/or flap his hands together rapidly, if we're fussing at Holden. Sometimes he'll fuss or yell at us or question the given punishment "Mommy, can Holden come back downstairs from his room?" It's kind of annoying but in the grand scheme of things... OH WELL!
5. Keeping in mind that Ashton is on a special diet... Gluten Free (wheat/barley/rye/oat), Casein Free (dairy), Citrus Free (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit) his favorite foods are: macaroni and cheese (Amy's Kitchen non-dairy rice maraconi and cheeze), cocoa loco bars (they are kind of like a brownie bar), Lay's Original potato chips, and he LOVES french fries and chicken nuggets providing they are safe for him to eat. He also loves to drink water and Coke!
6. If there is one thing you should know about Ashton... it is, that he LOVES to read! He loves books, comics, reference materials (encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc) .... really, just about anything that can be read, he'll read. His favorite subject matter used to be animals.... but it's slowly transitioned into being super heroes. ANY super hero will do! Batman, Spiderman, Superman, Iron Man, etc. He also loves storybooks, that is... books with multiple stories in it. More bang for the buck, I suppose? His current, favorite books are: "Sumo Mouse" by: David Wisniewski and "Five Little Monkeys Storybook Treasury" by: Eileen Christelow. He especially loves "Five Little Monkeys Bake A Cake" from the the storybook treasury book.
7. Ashton's favorite person in the world, is undoubtedly, his younger brother, Holden. Ashton's taken to calling Holden, Baby Swinub (yes, the Pokémon character). We have NO idea why he insists on doing this, but Baby Swinub, Holden is. :) Holden doesn't seem to mind all that much, just when Ashton starts trying to treat him more baby-like. We're trying to break the "baby swinub" habit, but so far, it's been pretty fruitless.
8. Ashton has an uncanny knowledge of some of the most obscure animals! I mean, he doesn't spout off random facts about said animals... but if you see one on TV or out in the "real world", he'll name it.... even if it's the wrong name! ;) hahaha! (example... a bongo at the local zoo was called an "antelope"... and there's no assuaging him to the correct name once he's named it...) By the way..... did you know that the sound an armadillo makes is: "I'm an armadillo!" (cute story.... back when Ashton was three or four years old, we used to ask him what sound any certain animal makes. He didn't know what an armadillo says, so he asked us back..... my husband spoke up and said an armadillo says... "I'm an armadillo" and it's stuck ever since. I'm not even sure what sound an armadillo makes)
9. Ashton is finally...... and positively, absolutely, unmistakably no longer wearing pull-ups of any kind. Yes... nearly eleven years of age, and this is finally a fact.... not a pipe dream of ours. He has been completely potty trained since June of 2009. I don't think I completely stopped the pull-ups until July of 2009, but he literally, potty trained himself, virtually overnight. A kid who wouldn't stay dry all day and never at night.... and would absolutely run SCREAMING if you asked him to use the bathroom for number two..... just up and started using the potty, all on his own with very little (really, none) pushing from us. Yay! It's so nice to not have that bother anymore!
10. and last but certainly not least.... while he has challenged me at every possible turn of his life ..... it's also been an incredible joy and pleasure to watch him grow into the wonderful young man that he's becoming. Sweet, thoughtful, loving, funny, cute(nope, I'm not biased....) and such a wonderfully happy personality that you can't help but smile when he's around! Sure.... he's got a long ways to grow and mature... but from the tiny little newborn that I held nearly eleven years ago, to the two and a half year old that I could no longer connect to (because of him being in his own world due to Autism), to that oblivious big brother of a newborn brother at age three, to the big brother who danced and hugged his baby brother at age five, to the eight year old that knew every animal that he saw, and to the now, nearly eleven year old boy that can run circles around me when it comes to electronics and makes me smile every day..... he's wonderfully, happily, and joyously mine.
Hope you've had fun getting to know Ashton :)