He's a FABULOUS kid. He's smart, funny, thoughtful, sweet, and just generally great to be around... when he's medicated.
This isn't to say he can't be all those things when he's not medicated, but they don't come naturally; they are masked by all the overwhelming difficulties that he has to even function on a simple level. Lately, whether it's due to an impending growth spurt, sinus issues, hormone issues, or a combination of all of the above, M1 has been even more difficult to handle than usual once the medication wears off... and it seems to be wearing off earlier and earlier.
Because I really need to get it out of my system, I'm going to share some shining examples:
Wednesday is library day. Wednesday is ALWAYS library day. The routine doesn't change. The librarians don't change. The lighting, book placement, and even most of the flyers on the door don't really change. We arrive a minute or two after we pick M2 up from school because the library is just down the street. We find our requested books from the arrival shelf first. Then I walk around with M2 while M1 selects his books; we join back up, check out and leave. Simple enough, right?
This Wednesday, M1 lost it. He "went stupid," to use the phrase that Oz and I use after the kids are down for the night. We're not trying to imply that he's stupid but merely that his brain ceases to process ANY social norms at all and basically shuts down to the outside (i.e. real) world. We walked up to the checkout counter and placed our books down for the librarian to check out. I looked down and noticed that M1 had a shoe untied, and I asked him to tie it. He squatted down, tied it... and didn't come back up. He stayed in a squatting position. The librarian had finished checking out M1's books, so I asked him to stand up to get them. M1 paused, stared at me blankly, and then - I swear - bounced up and played peek-a-boo with the librarian before ducking back down behind the counter. The librarian kind of gave me a funny look, but he's seen us around enough to know that sometimes my kids can be a bit... er... difficult. (For whatever reason, the library is one of M2's favorite places to have meltdowns.) Anyway, I asked M1 again if he would get his books. I don't think he heard me, so I said his name.
Word to the Wise: Never, ever call an ASD child's name in a public place unless you want a violent reaction. Triple this if they're zoned out.
M1 shot to his feet with an extremely loud shriek/squawk, flinched when I tried to touch him so I could try to bring him back to reality, grabbed his books, and made a dash for the door. In the meantime, all I really wanted in that moment was a T-shirt that read, "With ADHD and Asperger's, life is never dull." The people using the computers nearby were amused; I think the librarian was a little scared.
M1's lack of impulse control is scary, too. Just tonight, we had major battles over the following:
1. The (mis)use of balloons.
2. The (mis)placement of metallic, foot-eating scientific objects like wires and alligator clips.
3. The (surreptitious, post-teeth-brushing, post-bedtime) eating of candy... and the lying that comes with getting caught.
4. The closing (slamming) of doors.
5. Admission of guilt to ANY of the above... because clearly he's entirely innocent and just the victim of his own malfunctioning brain. (To which I say yes, he is, but that's not an excuse to act like a giant equine posterior.)
Now, please contrast all of the above to the following anecdote:
M1 and I dropped by Target and Hobby Lobby in between a swim lesson and swim team practice.
In Target, he helped me find some carrots and potatoes so I could make beef stew for dinner. He double-checked every slot in the coffee creamer section because I *still* haven't been able to locate any peppermint mocha. I know it's out there; I'm just not that lucky. He used every ounce of his 9-year-old male fashion sense to help me pick a winter hat and gloves because I haven't had either of those in about 11 years. He helped me pick out two sweatshirts and a gorgeous red sweater dress for M2 and asked if he could have another pair of sweatpants for swim days when I ask him to throw warm clothes on over his cold, wet jammers so we can haul bootie to the car and get to M2's school on time.
At Hobby Lobby, he was amazing, too. We had used the last of our green gel icing dye for Halloween cookies and needed to get some more before Christmas because HELLO... Christmas cookies gotta have green. It was such a fun trip! We wandered into the scrapbooking aisle to look at stickers to see if there were any that M2 might want for her art supply stash. He helped me pick out the best green dye for Christmas cookies and then requested black and gold decorating gels with the logical argument that if we bought them, I wouldn't have to mix those particular colors but they could still make things like gold stars or Santa's boots. He helped me find and look at a couple of items that I've been considering as gifts for various people.
Throughout both stores, we laughed. He let me hold his hand and pretended to be embarrassed when I hugged him in public. He waited (fairly) patiently in line when we were ready to check out. He picked up the bag(s) and carried it (them) out to the car for me after we were done.
Like I said, he's an amazing kid. It simply astounds me that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde really can exist in this one small boy's body. I would love to get a look at his brain. So if anyone out there wants to run an fMRI for research purposes, sign us up! As long as he's medicated, I'm sure he'd be quite amenable.
And if he's off the meds?
Well, all bets are off.