Today on World Autism Day 2020, I’ve decided to do an update on exactly what is going on in Everett’s life right now.
Everett is 13 and is coming off the hardest year of his life. I am so proud of how he has navigated and persevered. His social skills have absolutely exploded and the joy he feels is so contagious.
One of the things I attribute his growth to is the Autism Center of North Mississippi’s new Blast Program they launched spring of 2019.
His abilities to not only interact socially, but his desire to interact with other people is amazing. Just this week, we were driving in our neighborhood and had to slow down because a boy was riding his scooter. Everett recognized him from school and rolled the window down to say hello to him. He would have never done this a year ago. He interacts with about 50% of the strangers we encounter out in public. It is a little time consuming and awkward, but it is so amazing to watch how his confidence has grown.
Everett can now ride the hoverboard standing up. I can’t begin to tell you how HUGE this is. When we were at the neurologist last spring, she wanted explanations of his physical abilities. We told her about how he rode the hoverboard. She said that is good, but he will probably never be able to ride it standing up. A few months ago, he started trying to stand up on it. He would try and fail, try and fail, but he kept trying and slowly was able to go a little farther each time. Now he zooms around with almost the same coordination as he did with his droid technique.
His abilities in daily life skills have also improved. When we take the garbage out, he knows how to replace the bag. He can make himself popcorn in the microwave, bagel in the toaster, and frozen French fries in the air fryer. He has become very independent in his want to complete tasks that he never did before. If I buy a pack of batteries, he takes them all and goes around with a screwdriver replacing batteries in his trains. He now sees an obstacle as a fixable problem and not a road block. He continues to cut his own hair every chance he gets. And now that we are quarantined, he has taken quite an interest in feeding Jack his food (too many times).
He loves playing his trumpet and trombone, loudly. He is continuing to show improvement on his ability to drive the golf cart. He rides his scooter around the neighborhood while Clay and I walk behind him. Anytime a car comes by, he jumps off and stands just to the side of the road until the car passes.
Everett has always been good with directions and which way he wants us to drive in our normal routine, but this year he really understands the concepts of cities, maps, and directions. He is constantly announcing what city or town we are entering with “Hello, (insert city name)” and then as we leave, he bids it farewell and announces the next destination we will drive through with “(Insert city name), here we come!” He is always searching for the details on our next family trip and wants to know in detail how we will get there.
He loves being tickled by Clay and I am wondering what the weight limit is going to be when this will have to stop.
Everett is very dramatic. VERY. DRAMATIC. When he is in the middle of a performance (which is what I have been calling his grievance episodes), he will get situated so he can see himself in a mirror. He starts just watching himself and repeats his performance until he gets it just right.
His phobias right now are all of the newly hatching bugs that fly. He always knows where the fly swatter is and he runs from the front door to the car with wild abandonment scared he might encounter a bug.
This sweet, dramatic, handsome, loving, and joyful teenager has my heart. Happy World Autism Day from us!!!