Different kind of usual December Holidays !

This December our holidays started out different - we went to visit our friend  in his beautiful hill-top house in Solan (near Simla). This was a lovely place, with hills all-around, far away from maddening noise/bustle, beautifully architected home and great hosts. Somehow DS was a bit off - not very sure if it was due to the height, the very narrow path leading to the hill-top, or due the fact that it was very cold in there. He was a bit anxious and we could see that he was not totally into it.

After a week there, we decided to deviate from our typical december holidays - which would be a week in Bangalore and then rest of time (multiple weeks) in Chennai - this was driven due to the flood situation in Chennai. So, we decided to stay 2+ additional weeks in Bangalore and then stay just 4d in Chennai and exit Chennai to the US.

It is in Bangalore he totally blossomed - not sure if it was the familiarity of the place, or he had time to think through things. He was completely present 100% of times - there were no  visibble "coping mechanisms". It is as if, he was a completely different person altogether. He was patient, perseverant and at the same time very communicative of his doubt, if he had one and was unable to understand. His favorite grand parents were also with him. Here are some examples:

  1. When we met the ex-Indian fast bowler Srinath, they got talking - Srinath asked DS, that if Dravid is still DS' #1 favorite and what would it take for Srinath to get the #1 spot in DS's all-time favorite list. Pat came the reply - "Mr. Srinath, you come home for Dinner or Lunch - you will be #1 in my books" :-)
  2. He was very concerned about his grand-dad - who had difficult in wearing his shoes - DS would immediately, bend down, strap the shoes for him and help him out.
  3. Every morning, DS would wake up, and on his own, go out for his exercise walk around the apartment (5-6 laps, and finish his 100x jumping rope) - no reminders required.
  4. Since the home is locked through the year, the rooms were dusty, so we used to sleep in the living room at the night - he'd bring the mattresses (carry them on his won - "I will ask for your help if I need them"), bedsheets, pillows and blankets; the next day morning, he'd do the reverse, fold all of them and take them away for storage. He even invented a new way of laying down the pillows - he'd carry them on his back, and would do a somersault, leave the pillows down on the somersault and get up for this next load.
  5. He was quite engaged and present when we visited our friends; and even if they were to talk topics that used to freak him out (about cars that he doesn't like). In a family re-union, he enthusiastically participated in playing Tennis and Badminton. We could clearly see, that in Tennis, he remembered and tried to follow his coach's past instruction (hitting over the ball, follow-through). Leaving their home, he made sure that he had collected all the Gym shirts (including DDs), folded them into a bag for carrying them; and made sure we brought it home.
  6. He had told his grand-dad that he'd take math lessons from him; and at the outset asked for patience from his grand-dad in teaching him. For a few days, he took out his own laptop to study whatever his tutor had taught him back in the US.
  7. DM, DS' aunt had gone dress-shopping along with DS. At the shop, while they were seated and looking around options, an old man walked on - DS immediately stood up and offered his seat to the old man. The old man, who turned out to be the owner of the shop, was so impressed with DS. Later DS told us that working in the Senior Center had taught him to do this.
All of these, in spite, of having exceptions regarding his diet - both on sugar, wheat and dairy, much more frequently. This has made us think on two dimensions:

  1. Do we really need this strict a diet ? We are planning to re-introduce dairy in his diet and see what it does. But still keep it gluten free and sugar free
  2. Maybe coming to India and staying at our home in Bangalore is a good thing - we need to explore options around in India.
We are so proud of DS of how well he has re-wired himself on this visit and how he has been "present" all the time. I wish we can find that magic potion that has transformed DS during this visit.

Introducing THIRD-Party in the conversations

As written elsewhere in the blog, we (as a family) generally do a lot of long drives. During those drives, we tend to talk amongst us, mostly having DS at the center - either he telling a story, or we play-acting as if someone else is with us and how do we interact with them and at sometime, he uses this time to play-act/model past scenarios, where he did something inappropriate and got into trouble at school.

So for this play-acting, he will insist on doing it two ways - the TGP* way (or inappropriately) that got him to trouble; and the SMA* way (the appropriate way).

During one of these drives, on an inspiration, we introduced third-party; while DS and DM are play-acting, I'll be a 3rd-party listener, by-stander or a non-participant in the play. I will be the one who sees DS' reaction and will form opinions and judgment in my mind- I (DD) play the 3P role and I typically switch between a potential friend (who is turned off due to DS' inappropriateness) or a teacher or an aide or a customer at the work-place.

DS is now looking for 3P reactions on all the role-plays; and a few days ago, he connected that with the action and consequences. Like what he did in a class-room (action) was observed by the 3P (his aide) and that resulted in a consequence, that DS didn't like !

Good stuff, DS !

Of Dosas and ability to write !

We have not blogged for a while - while life moves on,  we too discover new things to work with DS, I believe we had written earlier about having a tutor come home and work with DS. This tutor has been working with DS for nearly an year now and the things have settled into a nice rhythm (or routine, depending on the perspective :-))

The tutor himself is not very structured, but we do believe that is the same reason DS likes him quite a bit - they have very conversational classes - the tutor goes from writing a story to science to math to history or just plain vocabulary - he is also letting DS express his interest and then gently pilots the class through.

There is one thing that we hit upon; since DS believes just 2hr/week is studies :-) and nothing else needs to be done, we were asking the tutor to give him some home-work. That has been initiated. There are some topics that the tutor would teach DS and then ask him to write about it. DS typically likes to make powerpoint.

For the powerpoint, we have invented a structure (called DOSA - his favorite dish)
D - Description - a short description of what the subject is, what it  is, et al
O - Origins of the subject - where did it start, how et al
S - Status - the current status of the subject - what it has become, dead/alive, et al
A - Analysis - his own opinion about the subject - where he writes what he thinks

This seems to work - also, it has given him some structure to write/talk more than a couple of sentences about anything and 'get it done'.

Here is an example that he did on Feudal system - still work in progress, but it is a start !!

Dear DS, Thought i will write to you !

Dear Kans,

As you know traveling for me is always not nice, since I have to leave you and amma and go. That is the most painful part for me. If possible, I will like to be around you all the time.

That made me thinking. When I am at home, we do not spend time always together. We are together when we watch a movie, or go on a drive or when we eat. But at other times, you in the room, doing your own thing and I'm in the room working or watching TV.

So, it made me ask why?

Then I realize that you are no longer a small boy - you are an 18 year old young adult. I should treat you so and respect your privacy, your thoughts and your own space. So, maybe, sometimes when you are alone you think about things that is important to you... May be you are thinking about what your life will be, how will you manage your job-sites, how much you need to study for GED or otherwise.

I'm very proud of you, Kan - how much you have changed in the past few years, how much you've understood. We know it has been very hard for you, but you continue to try and make a very sincere effort, in spite of your brain telling you different.

This is the greatest character trait that you have - Trying to understand the noise/dis-order around you and making sense out of it; in spite of challenges, not giving up easily. You are living CARS (Challenge, Aware, Regulate, Sustain) every day! 

I am so proud of you and when I think of you, I'm in awe of you - not many people can attempt to rewire the brain !

Finally, I am so deeply thankful to you. Slowly over the years, you have changed me from what I was to a much better person that I am now. You have very clearly taught me, on what is important in both within myself and outside of me - where the real joy is. At the same time, you have shown me that there are everyday blessings that I can recognize and appreciate. You have made me to look inside and see what is that I can do to change first before I ask others to.

I know that I'm not yet where you are and where I want to be. Your mum may be with you and ahead of me. I may never be that; but, I promise that I will try my hardest and continue to rewire my brain as I walk with you on this journey.

I love you very much Kans, I hope you know how much!

Take care, try hard, grow well, have faith & believe/trust...