We are fast approaching the one year anniversary of the Roc’s “A” day, or Autism diagnosis day, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what it was like last year during the holidays. It was an especially difficult time for us. We were also going to be alone for the holidays for the first time. Last year the Roc didn’t get excited about presents, other than playing with the wrapping paper, and I had to help him along on Christmas morning. He didn’t play with anything we got him. I remember GC and I looked at each other and said something to the effect of “This is so depressing. It’s not supposed to be like this.” It really was an especially difficult time for us.
What a difference a year has made, for all of us. We were alone, just the three of us, again this year but it wasn’t anything like last year. For one, the Roc “gets” gifts now. He understands that there’s more to it than just wrapping paper, and that there is something under all that pretty paper. Another change is that he willingly went and sat on Santa’s lap this year at the mall, and he asked for a specific toy, a train table. I was pretty excited to see if he would like that big present, and little worried that maybe we had coached him to ask for that specific item and that he wouldn’t really care about it. Needless to say I was so excited that I was the last one to fall asleep on Christmas Eve and the first to wake up in the morning, so I photographed the tree, again.
When I went into the Roc’s room and wished him a Merry Christmas he seemed worried by this change in our normal routine and probably by my visible excitement. I asked him if he knew who had come the night before and if he wanted to come out and see what was under the tree and he said no. Uh-Oh! He then asked if Santa was downstairs and I quickly figured out that he was worried that Santa came and was still here! He didn’t want to come out if Santa was downstairs. I reassured him that Santa came at night while he was sleeping, that he didn’t sleepover, and only then did the Roc come out to see the tree. As soon as he saw the presents he wanted to go down and start opening. He got right to it and opened everything on his own, no coaching from Mommy needed, and even developed his own gift opening technique. He started every present at the corner.
The first couple things he opened were little games and so everything after that he said “what’s it going to be?” “oooh, a game” as he was opening it. He even played along with the whole show me what you got so Mommy can take pictures thing.
Sometimes he put put the items up too early and/or in front of his face.
But for the most part he got the hang of it.
The one thing he asked to take out of the package as soon as he unwrapped it was this wooden birthday cake set.
Score!! It was such a great feeling to know that he was excited about something we got him! I just knew when I saw that in Toys R Us that he would like it. The kid loves cake!
After all the presents were opened we told him that there was one more big surprise in our bedroom and we would bring it out to him… and then we ran into a slight problem. GC built the train table in our bedroom and we made sure it would fit through the doorway before he put the drawers on it! Dumb! When we tried to bring that huge wrapped table out of the room the drawer handles made it too big to pass through the doorway! ARgH! I really didn’t want the Roc to unwrap it in our bedroom so GC did the only logical thing, took the door off the hinges.
Wah-lah! It fit! The train table was out and ready to be unwrapped. The Roc was doing the happy poodle dance and he correctly guessed what was under all that wrapping paper. He even said that it was was what he asked Santa for!
The Roc was so excited! As soon as it was free he immediately started playing!
GC played too!
He liked it, he really liked it! He even played with it by himself and didn’t need to have Mommy or Daddy play with him, though that is always preferred. GC and I couldn’t stop smiling. We marveled at all the changes the Roc has undergone and how different this year was compared to last year. One thing for sure, Christmas was fun this year! (and the Roc sure does look cute in those “Heffner” pjs!)