A Zachary update

I think everyone who visits here knows of Zach. He is now 8 years old. He is in grade 3.

He has been diagnosed with ASD. That manifests itself in interesting ways. Unlike the stereotype, Zach is very social. He engages with others. Often not appropriately, but he is interested in others and will say hello to just about anyone.

He also has a number of challenges and anxieties. He will not eat most foods. Not pizza, not pasta, not most common meats (only chicken fingers sometimes and bacon on rare occasions when I cook it just right), and not a lot of fruits and veggies - only apples, carrots, celery and peppers. He almost lives off of granola bars. So, think crunchy things. Oh, and vanilla yogurt, which is not crunchy. I have no idea.

At school he aces math, does well in science, and is slowly coming around to gym and music (which have been challenges in the past). His reading and writing, well behind the class until recently, is taking off. Art is not something he participates in very often. Music, sometimes.

Even if he does take part, he needs breaks in the hall or in a quiet room when he gets overstimulated. He has noise cancelling headphones, but they only do too much.

Even getting on the bus is a challenge. He still wants someone there with him in the morning, because he can’t wait for it on his own. In the afternoon, he obsesses over missing it but needs a helper to take him to the bus. Often a grade 8, but they are difficult to arrange because of fluctuating schedules. The deal we have with him is he takes himself to the bus in the afternoon once March Break is over. That’s Zach. He plans his steps of self-improvement.

But we got the following note last night, and it was so cool I thought I’d share:

Hello Mrs. and Mr. Hansen,
Back “in the day” we used to call this a “Sunshine Call” !:wink:
I am just sending a quick note to share a great thing that happened at the VERY end of the day today.
After the 3:30 bell, the last few kids were leaving the hall. I stepped around the corner for a brief moment and when I returned, here’s what I saw.
Only two students left in the hall. One of them was Zach. He was helping a boy in our class zip up his zipper. I said, “Zach, my goodness. You had better hurry. You have to catch a bus.” Zach responded, “I know Ms. M but I looked around and didn’t see anyone to help him, and I couldn’t just leave him. He needed help with his zipper.” Then Zach, proceeded to head out to the bus and walked through the doors, I walkied Ms. S to make sure she could support. He walked right past her and went straight on the bus!
Wow! This is the same boy who, only a few months ago, had to be ready at least 5 minutes before the bell because he would get extremely agitated at the thought of not making it to the bus. The same boy who would come to a grinding halt once he got the exit doors if someone wasn’t directly by his side!
Yay for Zach!
Please tell him I am proud of him… but not too proud because… he doesn’t like praise !:blush:
Have a wonderful evening!

These are the moments that show his growth, when his empathy overpowers his anxieties and he can be a really cool kid. Hopefully he keeps it up today.

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Yay Zach!!!

I’m struck about his similarities to his father. He’ll turn out fine.

Carter would have left the kid with an open coat to go hit on the hot teacher down the hall.

The goal now is to keep the momentum of things like this. For example, he still can’t swim. We’ve enrolled him in swim lessons, but between Covid and is unwillingness, it’s been super hard.

Personally, I want him ski racing. It’s the family thing. It’s what we do all winter long. And he’s not on a team because he won’t stay with a team. It’s brutal on me.

He likes going fast. He wants to race me down the hill. He just can’t separate from me and mom on the hill.

So, I’m in the middle of arranging to be a co-coach on his team next year. I know the main coach of the team (I coached him decades ago) and he’s moving to that team to coach his youngest daughter. If I join, that’s two experienced coaches. We can take on a teenager for a third coach and mentor her (will probably be a girl just to balance coach genders for the girls on the team). And then if Zach has a meltdown I can take him and the team is in good hands. If I’m the lead coach, I can’t really leave with him easily.

Zach is on the spectrum, not nearly as “far” as some, and this shit is hard. It’s not child-in-a-wheelchair difficult, but it’s a different sort of difficult. You could never blame Carter for his disabilities, but there is a tendency to get mad at Zach because he can physically do anything, but his anxieties prevent him.

It seems like beint a co-coach on his team would be a good solution. That way he can stick close to you while he needs to do that. Maybe as he gains confidence and maturity he’ll separate a bit. That will probably happen when he feels safe.

The Whistler trip was a mixed bag. He ate almost nothing at restaurants. He had a meltdown in a teppan restaurant. We should have known it would be sensory overload. We hoped he would be entertained.

But he skied more than ever, even if he was locked in a snowplow. Sigh.

It remains difficult to have had an aggressive, athletic boy, have him lose his abilities, lose him entirely two years later, then the next boy have no interest in a sport you’ve based your life around and no real interest in sports or physical activities at all.