Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Week With Anson

Since last Sunday I've been staying at my son Rob's home taking care of his 10-year old son, Anson, while Rob, Cindy and their 8 year old daughter, Brooklyn, went to Arizona for a week. I've written about Anson before here.  He's profoundly autistic and presents his own set of challenges.  It was originally Rob and Cindy's plan to take Anson with them, but they realized that with his behaviours and fears, flying would be very difficult for him and  there'd be other issues once they got to Arizona.  Anson needs his routines and has to feel safe.

Lloyd was going to be there with me, but then he had to be out of town for work and only joined us for the last two days.  Anson and I managed very well on our own, as it turned out.  Our daily routine was mapped out, with him spending time at the Children's Center (it was a school holiday this week) where he is well known and liked by the workers who devote their time to working with special needs kids. He always greeted me with a hug when I came to pick him up and was happy to be with me.  He has such funny little quirks - like stripping down the minute he walks in the house and putting on his 'comfort' clothes. 

Several times during the day he'd drag his duvet into my bedroom (his parent's bedroom) along with nine books, grab my hand and tell me he wanted to snuggle.  So we'd go in and lay on the bed and I'd read all nine books to him (luckily they were short pre-school type of children's books).  After about the third day of this, I realized that we were reading the same books in the same order each time.  He loves books.  Those were my favorite parts of the day.

He loves the computer and spends a lot of time watching YouTube (with parental guides in place) and Sesame Street clips. It's amazing how he can maneuver around the computer.

Anson on the computer

On Saturday Lloyd and I brought him to our place for the day where he had fun exploring a new environment and getting into all sorts of stuff.

He's such a happy boy - we had no incidents, no meltdowns, no problem behaviour.  He took his medications without a fuss and ate everything that was prepared for him.  His diet is simple - gluten free, dairy free, and minimal sugar.  We ate lots of vegetables, mostly raw, and meat and rice cakes.  All with liberal servings of ketchup!  

Breakfast - bacon, rice cakes, vegetables, apple juice

I learned so much about Anson this past week and came away with a much greater appreciation for Rob and Cindy. It's not easy having an autistic child.  The vigilance is constant and tiring.  They moved here from Regina several years ago because this area reportedly has the best programs and services for autism in Canada.  As well as programs for the autistic children, there are programs and helps for parents, caregivers, and siblings of special needs kids too.  Rob and Cindy take advantage of them all, especially the much needed respite workers.  And Brooklyn participates in the programs for siblings, because their life is affected by the needs of the family as well. 

So, although I was nervous about having the responsibility for Anson, I was glad I spent this week with him.  It was good for both of us. He's a precious little boy.


Mickey said...

Don't you think every family should have a child with Autism? They are so special. We love, learn and enjoy our Charlie so much. Glad it all worked out so beautifully and your time with Anson was so memorable!

Thisisme. said...

Ansom looks a lovely young lad, and it was good that you were able to spend this precious time with him, and I'm sure he loved it every bit as much as you did!It was also nice for Brooklyn to get to spend some special time with her mum and dad.

just call me jo said...

I admire you and Anson too. It's tough being autistic and sometimes it's challenging being a grandma for special needs kids. I struggle every time I go to Vegas or they come here. Sounds like everything went swimmingly. With enough love and patience all things work out usually. I'm glad to be home. How about you?

Ellie said...

I haven't really had any experiences with children with autism but I can imagine it is hard to deal with.
However you all seem to have had a great week which is wonderful.
It's a good way to get to know anybody - spending time with them.
He looks like a lovely young boy.
I hope Rob,Cindy and Brooklyn had a wonderful break. :))

Desiree said...

One of my son's friends from primary school had a sister who was autistic, severely so. It was not easy for her parents, who had three other children in addition. I echo Diane's sentiments although I, too, would have felt somewhat anxious to have had this responsibility on my own. You are a very special grandmother, Pat!

Bouncin' Barb said...

What a cute little guy! I love that name Anson. And since I see he's a Nascar #20 Car - Joey Logano fan as I am, well he's got to be a great kid! haha.

I had an ADHD child and that was a handful so I can't imagine having to be that regimented. Yet, we seem to do it don't we? Whatever it takes. You're a good Grandma!

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Glad your week went so well. How wonderful you got to spend some time with your grandson. We never truly know how tiring it can be to care for a handicapped child or how much it effects the whole family until you experience it for yourself. It is so great that they provide so much support there. Not everyone has that or a caring grandmother to help out either. I'm sure your help was appreciated just as much as you appreciated having the time with him.

Magpie said...

I'm so glad you got to spend time with Anson and that it went so well. I have three autistic nephews all at different levels on the spectrum. Life can be very challenging, but just as rewarding.


I am glad you had a wonderful week with Anson. My cousin's grandson has Aspergers Syndrome, so I understand the challenges you face. The important thing is that he is loved and cared for. Take care.

Granny Annie said...

Your Anson is a prize and you are a wonderful grandmother to have been able to enjoy him on your own.

We have one grandson that is autistic. He is now 19 and new set of problems arise for our daughter who has raised him with her other son and daughter as a single parent. He is an amazing young man because he has an amazing mother and siblings who have devoted their time and energy into understanding his special needs. We would not trade our beloved autistic grandson for all the tea in China but we would never say that "every family should have a child with autism". It is a long and winding and all consuming road.

Sush said...

Hi Pat,
My oldest and dearest friend's youngest child is autistic. It is a challenge every day for everyone in his life. Each moment of each day is planned in advance. My hat goes off to parents with children with special needs. The love that is bestowed on their children is lovely to behold. You and Anson have a special relationship and it is so great he feels so at ease with his loving grandparents.

Anonymous said...

Anson keeps asking "Go and see Grammie" tomorrow! He misses you! I think he really enjoyed your quiet week together. Thanks so much Pat! We had a wonderful time and a good 'recharge' as well as a great opportunity to spend time with Brooklyn who sometimes gets overlooked. I think you are a very special grandma too! Thanks again!