After watching Kaitlyn practice her part in the school’s Christmas program for so long, Amber and I could not wait to see the actual production Tuesday night. And it was a great show!
The program was divided into a couple different parts so that parents had a better opportunity to see their child perform. Kaitlyn’s role came up during the third song, and she was dressed as a star.
She was the most beautiful shining star I have ever seen, even if her costume was a tad too big. For most of the song, she struggled to keep her costume from swallowing her whole, and that just made it even better. She knew the dance steps and the words to the song, and she did a great job.
If there was going to be a time when the social awkwardness that comes with her Asperger’s was going to be on display, Tuesday was going to be the time. I was able to notice that, while, as noted above, she knew the dance and the song, she was very uncomfortable. She focused intently on getting her part right, and barely looked at the audience at all. That is just fine with me. What the program did do, however, was force her to get out of her shell even more. It is easy for her to be herself when she is comfortable with her surroundings, and we work hard at making her more comfortable in more places.
The best part of the night came after the show. As Amber and I were heading over to meet with her, Kaitlyn intercepted us, and she had the absolute biggest smile on her face. She was very happy with her performance, and that is all that matters. For all of the challenges that Kaitlyn faces with her Asperger’s, what Amber and I want most is for her to be happy with herself and in things that she does. We are her biggest fans and most fervent supporters, and we embrace those roles, and the role of being the ones to help guide her every day. To us, she is a shining star everyday.
Tonight is a big night for Kaitlyn. After weeks of (intense?) practice, tonight is the second grade Christmas program. I know that they have been practicing with the music teacher for quite some time, and it will be interesting to see the production they are putting on tonight.
By the time the curtain is raised and the show begins, Kaitlyn and her classmates will have already given the performance twice today for the rest of the school. The third time of the day should be smooth sailing, right?
It has been pretty cool watching Kaitlyn run through her parts over the last few weeks. After first being disappointed that she was not going to be a reindeer like she had hoped, she embraced her role in the dance troupe. (Although I hope she dances better than Amber and I do, because we are terrible!) I noticed a few spins and twirls, but I can’t be certain that she is not adding her own touches to the routine.
I had to take some time to digest what I heard and read before deciding to share my feelings about it. The “it” that I am referring to is singer Susan Boyle’s recent announcement that she has been diagnosed with Asperger’s.
My initial reaction was that having another prominent person reveal the diagnosis will help continue to develop awareness of Asperger’s and autism. I hope that I am right.
But I had another reaction, one that was unexpected, when I read the story more. It wasn’t so much that Ms. Boyle revealed her diagnosis, it was a quote that was attributed to her.
“Now I have a clearer understanding of what’s wrong and I feel relieved and a bit more relaxed about myself.”
My issue is with Ms. Boyle referencing having something “wrong” with her. That is a patently false statement (though I doubt that was Ms. Boyle’s intent).
Being diagnosed with Asperger’s, or any type of autism, is not a signal that something is “wrong” with a person. I reject, and have done so continually on this blog, the notion that people like Ms. Boyle and like Kaitlyn have something wrong with them because they have Asperger’s.
Is it wrong for someone, and from here on out, I will be referring to Kaitlyn since I do not know Ms. Boyle, to be extremely bright, devoted, caring, and focused? I don’t think so. Does Kaitlyn sometimes drive Amber and I crazy with her obsessions (currently American Girls)? Yes, but we embrace each obsession and are fortunate that Kaitlyn even lets us in in the first place. Are there times where Kaitlyn amazes us with her compassion? Absolutely; like on Thanksgiving, when we went around the table and said what we were thankful for and she led with “shelter,” making the rest of us take a step back for a second and reassess what we are thankful for, all while realizing that it may not measure up to what a seven-year old came up with off the top of her head.
I have no doubt that Ms. Boyle has faced numerous challenges in her lifetime, and she will continue to do so. Her diagnosis will explain so much to her, and hopefully allow people to be more understanding of her. But I can assure you that there is nothing “wrong” with her.
We don’t have very many traditions when it comes to Thanksgiving. Other than running in our local Turkey Trot in the morning, we are pretty flexible with the rest of the day. Last year, we joined some friends for brunch after the race, and before that, we would just hang out around the house. This year, we will be enjoying a Thanksgiving lunch with a friend of ours and her family.
We are also planning on doing something for Thanksgiving that we have not done in the past (no, I am not talking about Amber running the 5k in the morning, which she is). We are planning on taking Kaitlyn to see a movie. And not just any movie, either. We are going to go see Disney’s Frozen.
Kaitlyn has been looking forward to seeing this movie for several months now. Let’s just say that she is a big fan of Disney movies, and pretty much anything Disney (surprisingly, her love of American Girls has not completely supplanted Disney). Her excitement has only increased in recent weeks as she has taken notice of merchandise from the movie in different stores we have been in.
This morning, before we left for work (Kaitlyn is putting in a hard day’s work with Amber today), I asked Amber if she wanted me to get any cash out for the movie tomorrow. Before I could even finish the question, Kaitlyn’s hand was outstretched, waiting for my cash to be handed over. I wish I could say that this is a new thing for her, but we have a picture at home of Kaitlyn when she first starting to be able to stand where she is taking cash out of my wallet. The best part about Kaitlyn’s love of cash is that she is a saver, at least of her money (she seems to really enjoy spending our money).
A new tradition may be born tomorrow with us seeing a movie, and I can hardly wait.
Last night, I busted Kaitlyn a few times when she was doing something she was not supposed to be doing. She was using a stool that she has had for quite some time as a stand to conduct some sort of concert, and at the conclusion of each song (safe bet), she would jump and tumble off of it. Knowing her lack of grace was bound to cause an injury at some point, I asked her to stop; that lasted all of 2 minutes before she was back at it.
I decided I would bust her again, so I snuck up and was watching her from around the corner, and sure enough, she jumped off the stool and tumbled to the ground. As soon as I busted her, she immediately told me that she had hurt herself when she landed on her right knee. Since I was watching, I knew that there was no injury, thus she got no sympathy from me.
When it was time for bed, Amber told her to get her pajamas on, and Kaitlyn claimed that she couldn’t because she “broke something” in her knee earlier. I offered to take her to the hospital to have the knee operated on, but Kaitlyn declined. After she got dressed for bed, she started limping over to her bed, except I noticed that her limp looked odd. She was limping as if her left knee was hurt, so I did what any good parent would do and reminded her the she hurt her right knee, not her left knee. Immediately, she switched her limp to the right leg and hobbled to bed.
Luckily, the knee was all better by this morning, and we did not have to make a trip to the hospital to have surgery or possibly get her leg amputated below the knee (in case there was an infection or something). Crisis averted, and I think Kaitlyn learned that if she is going to fake an injury, she needs to remember what she “hurt” and stick with it.