Traveling Jonathan’s way I’ve learned that many of his challenges have to do with his ability to process situations and also how he deals with changes. When he finished Kindergarten and went into the first grade, his reading had gotten really good. His teachers were so impressed with him, until he was asked to explain what he read about and couldn’t. Comprehension has always been difficult for him; mainly because to come up with an acceptable answer to the question “what did you just read about,” takes a longer time for him. His words won’t come as spontaneously as unaffected peers. In the first grade, to deal with his comprehension he would retreat into his world of “SPONGE BOB!” He loved the cartoon Sponge Bob. Jonathan possesses what his resource teacher termed “rope memory.” He can remember most anything. He’d begin reciting an entire episode of Sponge Bob to himself. He could do all of the characters, too. I thought that was amazing and was full of pride until I realized it was his way of dealing with not being able to comprehend. My Jonathan could recite every word of every character in the “Charlie Brown Christmas“ cartoon! His teachers and para-professionals worked hard with him and with me, too. Oh yes, Elmo and Thomas the Train were his idols. I was forced to make changes in his routine, which brought on a bit of conflict. He couldn’t play with his trains and cars except a couple of days a week. He couldn’t watch Sponge Bob often either. Charlie Brown Christmaswas totally off the table. He didn’t like that at all. But with a lot of help and support and determination we both jumped that hurdle and by the third grade he was more rounded and ready to experience new things.
Sounds bother him, too:
A door buzzer sends him into a frenzy. A door bell is fine.
The THX logo in the beginning of movies sends him over the edge, too.
Certain songs cause him to put his hands in his ears and close his eyes either until they are over or I turn them off. The problem here is I never know which songs might cause this reaction
Change is very difficult for him. He rejects even food if it looks different. Case and point:
The regular Lunchable® is what he is accustomed to. I bought the bigger Lunchable® and he totally rejected it. Why? His answer: It’s bigger. The regular Cocoa Puffs® he loves. The box that says 50% more real cocoa he shuns. Why? It’s too much chocolate. The Chef Boyardee® ravioli he loves. The store brand he won’t touch. Why? It’s different. I haven’t been able to breach this particular situation.
I am encouraged though. Why? He can open the can and safely microwave it by himself now and he always cleans up behind himself. More tomorrow.
I don’t know when I really began to notice that he was growing up very fast. But he did grow fast, to me. So, I expressed it to his pediatrician at the time. “Doctor, he is very tall for his age,” I said. The doctor looked up from his notes at Jonathan’s year physical and replied, “And…”
I felt silly. He told me that there was nothing I could do about what inherited or genetic. If he’s tall, he’s tall. Well, that was when he was about 6 years old. In these pictures, he’ll 11 years old. He had the distinction of being the tallest boy in his school. Why, when a real bona fide lumberjack came to the 4th grade classes and took pictures with them, my Jonathan was taller than the lumberjack!
I read an online article regarding children on the spectrum growing taller and weighing more than other children without their challenges:
"Preliminary analysis shows that younger children with ASDs tend to be taller, and older children with ASD tend to be heavier, than their unaffected siblings."
https://iancommunity.org/cs/ian_research_reports/weight_and_height_minireport. -Online Reference
There is always something to smile about where Jonathan is concerned:
My husband and I along with Jonathan were at the voting booth one year, and a volunteer, noticing his height, spoke to him and asked how old he was. Jonathan said he was 8 years old. The volunteer, an older gentlemen, looked at me and said, “It just means he’s healthy.”
He was sparing with his Sensei when he was about 8 years old. He got a good punch in and he actually staggered his Sensei. After class he told my husband and me that if Jonathan ever really comes to life about Karate, he’s gonna be formidable.
For the time being, I will enjoy my big boy and continue to teach him so that he will be able to survive in this world. He is not aggressive, nor is he timid. He is Jonathan and as he begins to process his surroundings I anticipate and expect for him to master his environment with courage and strength.
I love sharing the pictures of Jonathan’s early childhood. They look so cute and sweet. He seems like all is well. It wasn’t.
4 years old at Church on Easter Sunday
The time came when I dreaded the mornings because even with the song I sang to him daily, there was turmoil trying to get him ready for school daily. From the time he got out of the bed until the time he got downstairs outside waiting on the bus there was all kinds of conflicts. I tried everything I knew to work through it. Little to none of it worked. In fact, at times I had to call the school bus depot and let them know not to come and pick him up. I would get him to school myself.
There were days I cried along Jonathan’s Way, because I felt all alone traveling his way. I knew from the look in his face that he really didn’t know what was wrong with him either. It was that look more than anything that helped me to keep a good grip on my emotions each and every day. It was only once he got on the school bus or I got him to class that I cried, just to release the tension in me.
We attend church regularly. When Jonathan was 2-1/2 years old, I was sitting in service with him next to me. I didn’t have any problems with him at church as far as bad behavior. But one day I noticed he was afraid. So, I picked him up and held him in my arms. I tried to put him down once and he clung to me tighter. I started having a hard time breathing, his arms were tightening around my neck and his head was buried in the side of my neck as if he were hiding from something. I finally got his arms from around my neck and sat him on the pew next to me. He jumped off the pew and crawled under it. I kept telling him to get up and tried to pull him from under the pew. It was almost an impossible feat. I finally did get him up and took him by the hand and drug him out of the sanctuary into the hallway and finally into the church nursery. It would be 3-1/2 years later before he sat in the sanctuary again. He was 2-1/2 years old when I took him out of the sanctuary. He was 6 years old when he returned to it or should I say when we returned to it.
I went through a lot of emotions in that 3 1/2 year period. I found out that he was afraid of the ceiling fans in the church sanctuary. It was so bad that my husband and I had to bring him in the church from the back door and take him straight to the nursery. I thought his pediatrician or his neurologist could give me some medicine and take away that fear. Both of them looked at me at separate appointments and said, “Mom, you just have to wait him out. He has to process it and there is no set time for that.” It proved to be a lonely time for me traveling Jonathan’s way during those years. I felt stuck and that I’d never be able to attend service regularly again. On the Sundays when we had our Communion services they had to bring my sacraments into the nursery for me to partake. My husband, a minister at our church, was always up in the pulpit with the pastor and other associate ministers while I was stuck in the nursery with Jonathan and other kids, babysitting, playing with, reading to, and talking to all the little munchkins. I confess that I was angry with him, too. I cried a lot during that time, wondering when it would all end.