Christmas with the Cousins

I’m shaking my head as I looked at my blog and saw the last post was in July.  Shame on me! Bryce starts his first year in a mainstream class and I haven’t recorded a moment of it! Suffice it to say, it’s been a rousing success and he’s doing great being surrounded by typical peers and lovingly guided by Mrs. Linda.

This year it was our turn for a Burkholder Christmas, versus the Rench one.  However, since Christmas fell on a Sunday (essentially a work day for us) we were in town Christmas day.  We spent Christmas Eve here at our house with the family and Christmas Day over at Grandma and Grandpa’s (after a wonderful Christmas service at church).  The next day, we headed up north to Gramps and Mem’s house.

At this point, Bryce had already been out of school for a week, and I could see the subtle changes in him already.  He NEEDS structure and familiarity to perform well.  When he’s out of school and away from Mrs. Linda, he’s like a different boy.  Not bad, but there are more “issues”, more frustrations, etc.  I was a little concerned about how things were going to be when we got around all the family and chaos that goes along with a Christmas vacation.

Bryce was excited as we left town, new pillow pet in tow, because he knew we were staying in a hotel (which he pronounces HO-tel). When we got to Gramps and Mem’s house the next day, I was pleasantly surprised to see Bryce greet them by name and give them big hugs.  We also got to spend the holidays with Uncle Lance, Aunt Josie and their three boys, Liam, Kyle and Regan.  Bryce kept calling Lance Uncle Justin, because his family was usually there when we came up for Christmas.  But by the end of the week, he had everyone’s names figured out. :) I also noticed that when we greeted the family, Bryce did an excellent job of answering questions posed to him.  Sometimes you get nothing but silence from him as he either thinks a long time about how to respond or totally zones you out and ignores you.  But he did very well answering questions about his age, what he got for Christmas, etc.  No one else may have noticed it, but I smiled to myself as I watched his initial interactions with the family.

This is not to say there were no issues or meltdowns all week.  One of our biggest mistakes was forgetting to bring our Wii controllers and his favorite game, Wii Sports Resort.  There was a Wii to play, but not his favorite game, and about 5 minutes after realizing that, he started asking if we could go home.  I hate to see him unhappy like that because it just consumes his mind-he was on the verge of tears the whole first night there.  Our saving grace was the fact that they did have Mario Cart and three controllers, so the cousins were able to play together.  It took some referee work to keep everyone happy, but we managed :) Our other major issue was the sock incident.  Bryce NEVER takes his socks off.  Bath time and swimming will be the only time you see his feet.  But one day, he went to the restroom and stepped in a puddle (you know, the kind of puddle you get with 6 little boys using the same restroom).  I didn’t have any extras with us because we were staying at Amie’s house overnights and our luggage was over there.  Her house was only minutes away, but we had to take him over there immediately to get more socks.  The whole trip he kept saying, “I need my socks!!!” We would tell him we were going to get them, and then ten seconds later- “I need my socks!!!”  *Sigh* I’m not sure we’ll ever get him over that particular obsession.  Once they were on again, he returned to  his usual happy self!

The most noteworthy event of the week, at least in my mind, was unnoticed by everyone else.  I told Bryce to turn off the Wii and go play with some toys with his cousins.  He disappeared down the hall to the boys’ room  and I figured he was going to stay back there alone with the toys.  I was shocked to see him return will a toy for each one of the boys and one for himself.  He walked around the room handing out a toy to each cousin saying, “Here, you play with______.” I was so proud of him.  He thought of others individually, and carried out my instructions even better than I hoped he would.  If Henry had done the same thing, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it, but when you are dealing with an autistic child, those events make your heart sing!

We really did have a very Merry Christmas- now BACK TO SCHOOL!!! :)

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