Jun 14, 2013 0 Share

Time to Let Go


Black and white illustration of hand letting go of bird.
iStockphoto

Yes, I do know my son is almost 27 years old and can handle many more things on his own than I give him credit for, but sometimes it is so hard to step back and let that happen. The scary unknown is rearing its ugly head again. Yet, when this opportunity presents itself it always serves to teach me a valuable lesson.

Going to Cody’s new program with him twice a week and watching him get up and down out of his chair 15 times an hour, not being able to focus on a given task and spewing random strings of echolalia out of the blue had all become old and discouraging. I really had lost all hope that this program was going to be right for Cody. But as a last ditch effort, I decided to see what would happen if I removed myself from the scene.

Cody and I walked in the door one Thursday morning and just as we were signing in, the Staff Director walked out of the classroom and greeted us. I told him I was going to change things up a bit and just see how well Cody would do without me sitting right there, but I would be just out in the lobby if there were any problems. The Director seemed quite okay with that arrangement and to my surprise—so did Cody.

I sat on the sofa by the front door while he was in class. My ears were perked, listening for any signs that suggested Cody was experiencing any sort of anxiety but there were none. Once however, he did hop up and down and giggle hysterically like he does when he’s happily excited.

I peered in the door from time to time and watched him. He was responding to instructions pretty much on cue. And to my surprise he was interacting with others in the class in a way I’ve never seen him do before.

There are two ladies there who are also clients in the program. Both ladies are much older than Cody but both took a liking to him right from the start. They took on the roles sort of “big sisters” to Cody. Both took him under their wings and gave him lots of encouragement to participate and lots of positive support and praise when he did well. And he was eating it up like candy. The more I watched the more intrigued I became. Soon I noticed this cramping sensation in my cheeks. Then I realized I was smiling so big the corners of my mouth must have been tickling my ear lobes.

Later the class went for a walk at a nearby park. One of the women took Cody’s hand and eagerly said, “Come on Cody, let’s go!” Cody made no objection but smiled and cheerfully complied. Hand-in-hand they left and 45 minutes later returned the same way.

The whole morning went very well. So Monday I sat in the lobby once again. Again there were no problems. The following Thursday they all went to a movie. I took this opportunity to do some grocery shopping then returned to pick Cody up. All went well. On Monday of this week I dropped Cody off and he stayed for the duration of the day then Bill picked him up on his way home from work. When he got home he was a little tired from all the activities but otherwise fine.

I had been so apprehensive about leaving Cody alone there. Even though there are much smaller group settings here than at the adult daycare program he attended before, I still worried about him becoming agitated due to overstimulation and then either having a meltdown or becoming aggressive towards himself or others. And all the while I thought my presence would help to increase his focus on the itinerary. Turns out, in this case I was more of a distraction to Cody instead of the encouraging force I had intended to be.

Like many parents I sometimes seek to help my child when he needs no help. This was one of those times. I realize now that I really needed to just let go and let him succeed on his own. And so far he’s doing a wonderful job of it.