As I try to narrow down the best part of our Thanksgiving weekend I can’t say one particular thing was my favorite; it was all pretty awesome! Jake held it together and we made a ton of great memories for him. All four of my “kids” were home; I believe the last Thanksgiving we were all together was right before Anthony joined the army. This particular Thanksgiving is something I will hold on tight too and remember forever!
My oldest son, Anthony, came down from Iowa with his wife and 3 step children. Let’s just say Jake was super excited about this; I was too! On Thanksgiving Day we had a total of 17 in our small home; Grammy, aunts, uncles and cousins. It was a little warm, a little loud but Jake was okay with everything. He was just happy to have everyone at our home especially his cousins, Ella and Kaden. They spent a good part of the day playing with him in his room. That night as we were getting ready for bed I asked Jake if he had a fun day and his response was immediate, “yes, it was the best day ever!” This is what I wanted most for him!
Anthony’s youngest, Kaden, is 10 almost 11 and technically speaking Kaden is Jake’s nephew but Jake calls him and the older kids his cousins. Makes it easier to explain. Although I think it’s kinda funny that Jake is 6 and has a niece that is 13 and two nephews that are 12 and 10! Anyway, they are all great kids. But Jake loves playing with Kaden and seems to really love this boy. If I were to guess, Kaden loves him too. No sooner had they walked into the house Jake said “come on Kaden, come to my room” and off they went to play. This boy is so kind and gentle with Jake. He showed Jake how play video games on the Wii and he was so patient with him when Jake became frustrated and cried. Several times I overheard Kaden say to Jake “Buddy, let’s take turns” and Jake would stop crying and respond with “yeah, that’s a good idea”. Seeing these boys together makes my heart so happy. Kaden isn’t hanging out with Jake because there is nothing better to do he seems to enjoy spending time with him.
Friday night Jake wanted Kaden to spend the night with him. We have done this before and Jake really doesn’t want Kaden in his room but just in the same place. Fortunately, Allie was home and once Jake went to bed she and Kaden hung out. Saturday morning Jake couldn’t wait for his cousin to get up and play. As soon as he saw Kaden his eyes lit up and was ready to get going on playing trains, iPad and Wii.
Saturday night we went to the boy’s stepmother’s house for Thanksgiving. I love the relationship we all have with each other and I love that we are included as part of the family. There were about 14 of us at her home and Jake seemed unfazed. He had Kaden with him and was calm! At first I was nervous how Jake would handle everything. It was raining; Jake hates the rain because it really stresses him and he seemed apprehensive about seeing everyone. But as soon as we walked in the door Anthony and Nathan’s grandfather was there. Mr. Whitten said “hey Jake!” Jake looked at him and said “Hi Grandpa B. how are you?” Grandpa B looked at me and smiled and any nervousness I had was gone! Jake and I had talked about greeting people and what to say when they speak to him. This is where his social skills group came into play because Jake said he didn’t like talking to people. So I used the information that his therapist uses in their group and talked to him about how it made others feel when someone speaks to another person and they don’t get a response. Jake immediately said “it makes people sad if they say hi and don’t get a hi back”. Thank you Dr. Weatherly!! Jake spoke and said hi to most everyone who spoke to him, he smiled at family as they talked to him and even made a point to smile at me at 6:05! Seeing Jake enjoy two big family gatherings in a matter of days is something I will never forget! He had fun, he loved being with everyone and let us know when it got to be too much. He used his words instead of crying and melting down and had a smile on his face the entire weekend.
It’s incredible how everyone we were around for the past several days sees Jake as a kid that needs a helping hand. They respect his personal space and allow Jake the time he needs to come to them when he is ready. If someone’s voice was too loud they noticed Jake covering his ears and lowered their voice so Jake wouldn’t be uncomfortable. If someone asked Jake for a hug and he said no they would ask him if he would hug them later or give them a high-five. The respect each person showed Jake was nearly too much for this mom!
The reason I mention this is because in the autism community too many times I read how family members either ignore the child on the spectrum because they don’t know how to relate or they talk down to the child. I feel blessed that we have a family that wants to learn and encourages Jake each and every time they see him. He is not another body in the room but truly a part of the family!
I am really thankful for how much Jake has grown over the years. Thankful for the friends and family we have and thankful that we have a day like Thanksgiving to show our appreciation to those we love and care about.
Thank you for reading my blog and the support you give not only to Jake but to me and my family as well!