One thing I worry about Diego’s future is his independence. How he is going to take care of himself, when currently almost everything has to be done for him? And I’m talking about the basics things we have to do every day; like brush our teeth, get a bath, go to the bathroom, get dressed, or eat by ourselves. For me when the time is right, every typical child learns these things easily with some instructions and basically by the modeling of others; at least it has been that way with his brother and sister. In Diego’s case the story is different; he doesn’t learn how to do them as easily, and sometimes it seems that he doesn’t want to be taught how to.
Taking a bath, for example, is something I’ve started teaching him. I explain to him what we are doing while manipulating his hands on how to do it. There has been some progress, and now I can even have the water faucet open for a short time while he is inside the bathtub (he usually doesn’t like the sound that the faucet does when the water is flowing), but unfortunately little overall success. The brushing of his teeth is something I’m also working on, and I can say he is getting the idea. He identifies his tooth-brush and the tooth paste, and let me manipulate his hand without complaining. His not there yet because when asked to brush them by himself, he does place the toothbrush in his mouth but just to chew it. In the eating department is where I can say he have shown the most progress. But this story started a couple of months ago, when he used to eat just rise & beans or french-fries.
One day my wife was eating noodles and he showed interest in tasting them. She agreed, and the most amazing thing happened; he liked them! And he liked them so much, that from that moment he only wants to eat noodles. For breakfast, for lunch, for dinner, and anytime in between, it just noodles what he wants. But let me clarify that it’s not any type of noodle. It has to be Japanese-Style Stir Fried Noodles with Savory Sauce, whatever that means. Thank God they come fully cooked, 3 minutes in the microwave and you are ready. The thing was that every time he was going to eat, he was so excited while I prepare them that I figured that I can negotiate the eating-by-himself learning process; and so I did. I told him: “if you want them, you have to hold the fork yourself”, and he allowed me to manipulate his hand. I had tried this many times before with the rise & beans but with no success, since every time he refused to learn how to grab the spoon and take the food to his mouth. With the noodles it has been different. After many weeks of practice I can proudly say that he is now eating the noodles basically alone. Isn’t that amazing! I even took a video to show other how well he is doing. Now he patiently waits seated while I prepare his favorite noodles, then he eats them all by himself.
For a father it is a wonderful feeling when your children get to master something. But I got to admit that with a typical child you kind of expect that they will get it sooner or later. With a child with Autism you know they have the potential but sometimes you are not sure if they are going to learn some specific tasks or not, so when it happens it brings you tears of joy and an enormous amount of hope for the future. Great work Diego!