The holidays are over. Christmas came and went in the blink of an eye, and its remnants remain in all the decorations I have yet to take down and store, and a small mess of toys kept under the tree. The kids are back in school and we’re slowly getting back into routine. Kyle and I gave all our students a two week Christmas break, so we start back up this week. It was a nice break not having students after the boys started back to school and we can ease back into it all instead of jumping back into everything all at once.

Winter can’t seem to make up its mind, which is really causing distress for Samuel and myself. Sam insists on wearing short sleeves. Even when I force him to wear long sleeve shirts, he immediately pushes up the sleeves past his elbow and melts down if they touch his forearm. He stands to wear a coat (thank goodness!), but takes it off as soon as possible. Because the weather is so mild, there are several days when it really is okay for him to wear short sleeves playing outside because he runs around and gets all hot and worked up. But other days when the temperature slips below 40, it’s all out war to keep him bundled up from the cold.

On top of weather/temperature problems and clothing sensitivities, we now also have a plethora of new toys with which to keep in order. Nearly every single one of them involves Cars 2 toys, so you can imagine the scripting! He and his younger brother both got the same set of Cars 2 cars so there’s no fighting over certain cars, which is an ENORMOUS blessing. Both of them also got various GeoTrax in Cars 2, and other Cars 2 vehicles so there is a great deal of possibilities to work into the scripting.

None of this is completely new and foreign to Sam. He’s had Cars 2 cars for a while, and has been scripting it, slowly adding his own imaginative scenarios bit by bit. He’s been struggling with the winter season, even saying it makes him angry. Home decorations have been up for over a month now, but it’s still different than normal. Christmas is annual, yet it’s activities surrounding it and the excitement of new gifts, then the new toys themselves, can be chaotic to him.

And so we put our foot forward in the new year of 2012 and embark on the journey to find yet another new “normal”. I thought that finding a new normal was only supposed to happen once after diagnosis when families figure out how to cope with disability in the beginning. As it turns out, it happens over and over again. Just about every time a major event (i.e. Christmas) or time period (i.e. summer) that interferes with the current normal comes and goes, a new normal must be re-found. Sometimes it will look exactly like the old new normal, sometimes it might look completely different. It depends on the changes that have taken place.

You might think new toys is not that big of a deal to work into our lives. But it is. It’s more to keep track of, more to learn so we can interact in play with him (because if you don’t do it right, you don’t do it at all), to know what is okay to share and what is not. Where they need to be kept to keep the order he has decided is right and will melt down if his order is changed. To teach his brothers how to interact with him with his new toys (which actually has been going mostly well this time!) and keep arguments and melt downs at a minimum. In addition to his own toys, we have to teach him what is and isn’t okay with regards to his brothers’ toys.

We can experience the lasting effects change has had on him for weeks after it’s over. Sam’s already been back in school for a week, and with the exception of one warning in class (highly unusual) and higher frequency of scripting at home, he’s been doing fairly well. Melt downs have been brewing just beneath the surface, but either he’s gotten better at managing his emotions, or I’ve gotten better at recognizing when he needs a break and preventing them. Either way, I’m seeing progress and that is very encouraging. Now that our work schedules will get back into full swing this week with piano lessons (in our home after school), I anticipate another two weeks or more of easing back into transition before finally settling in the new normal.

Big, deep breath. Tomorrow is Monday, the start of a fresh week. On the schedule is an IEP meeting in the morning followed by a day of undecorating and cleaning up before piano lessons, homework, dinner and Bible study. In through the nose, out through the mouth…..

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