Last week I was thinking about how quickly the summer flew by and I thought about all the things we didn’t get to do. And just as I started to feel the mom guilt kick in, I started scrolling through my Instagram photos.
This summer, we didn’t get a chance to go on a real vacation. (It’s been two years since we’ve gone away.) I wanted to try to make every weekend fun. Sort of impossible to do as a full-time working parent. The weekends are for catching up with laundry, food shopping, cleaning, and writing.
We may not have done everything I wanted to do, but Norrin had fun. I got to see his eyes glitter with delight and hear his infectious little giggle. I watched him do things he hadn’t done before and we got to experience things as a family that once seemed impossible. And I feel grateful to have captured them on Instagram. These pictures are a reminder of how far Norrin’s come since he was diagnosed with autism five years ago.
A Summer of Firsts for a Boy with Autism 1 of 13
Click through to see a summer of first moments and milestones for my 7-year-old son, Norrin.
A Father & Son’s 1st Game of Mini Golf 2 of 13
Joseph bought Norrin his first set of golf clubs when he was less than a year old. This summer, we opened the box for the first time. I got to watch Joseph and Norrin play their first game of miniature golf together. I know it was something Joseph was waiting a long time for.
No Life Vest 3 of 13
Norrin is a true water baby. He loves the pool. Up until this year, he's always worn a vest. This summer, the vest came off. He'd outgrown it and we decided it was time to start teaching Norrin how to swim. At first he was scared. He cried and asked for the vest. Then when he went in, he walked along the edge of the pool.
As the summer weeks went on, he became more confident in his ability. Now he's swimming underwater and doing so well.
His 1st Bike 4 of 13
Over the last five years, my husband, Joseph, and I have gone through tricycles, big wheels and scooters. Norrin didn't have the strength or the coordination to pedal a tricycle. And he didn't have the coordination or understanding to ride a scooter. Eventually (and with a lot of practice) Norrin was able to pedal his big wheel. But he didn't have the focus or motivation and he tired easily.
This summer, we purchased his first bike and we watched proudly as he rode it. It will take a while before the training wheels come off, but this is a major milestone for Norrin.
Monster Truck Show 5 of 13
Norrin may have autism, but he's very much the typical boy. He loves cars, trucks and things that smash. We'd taken him to the Monster Jam show two years ago, but the stadium was indoors and Norrin had a difficult time handling the noise and the crowd. This summer, we won tickets to see the Monster Jam show at Met Life Stadium. It was outdoors and Norrin was really excited about it. He waited patiently for the show to start. He cheered with the crowd. He kept his headphones on and enjoyed the show.
Our 1st Soccer Match 6 of 13
This summer we were invited to the Gold Cup game at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey. We've never taken Norrin to a sporting event before, but he has an interest in soccer. I was nervous about going - as I usually am about new things - but we went. Norrin did much better than expected. We didn't stay for the second match, but it gives me hope that sporting events can be part of our life.
A Much Needed Haircut 7 of 13
Okay...this isn't exactly a first. But it's still major. I've been wanting to take Norrin for a haircut for more than a year and have just been scared. The last time I took him for a cut (two years ago), I had to hold him down. So when Norrin's occupational therapist at his school offered to cut his hair, I couldn't say no. She said he did a great job sitting still for her.
3D Movie at Home 8 of 13
The Saturday before Father's Day, our television broke. Since it was still under warranty, we were able to get a brand new 3D television for free. (Talk about a great Father's Day gift!) Norrin is a really busy kid, and he doesn't sit still for long. And I didn't think he'd watch a 3D movie. But here he is, on a Friday night watching Wreck It Ralph. He watched the entire movie with us and loved it!
A Walk in the Park 9 of 13
I grew up in Queens and we spent many afternoons walking around Flushing Meadow Park. Living in The Bronx and juggling our hectic schedules, we rarely spend time in Queens. One of the best things about motherhood is sharing my special childhood memories with my kid. Seeing Norrin's face when he first spotted the globe was a summer highlight for me.
Disney Planes 10 of 13
We haven't been to a movie theater in years. The last time we went to see a movie was the sensory screening for Cars 2 and Norrin was scared to go in and kept asking to leave. The movies have always been a challenge for us. And I was skeptical about taking him to see Planes because I didn't know how he would react or if he would even stay.
But Norrin liked watching Wreck It Ralph in 3D at home and kept the glasses on, so we decided to give Planes a go. And once again, he made me so proud. Norrin waited patiently in the lobby until it was time to go in. He sat through the entire movie. He laughed, he asked questions, he engaged with us. This was a major milestone!
A Mother and Son Date 11 of 13
I had this idea to have a mother and son date. Norrin and I are together all the time, but our outings consist of errands, doctors appointments, or shuttling him between boroughs. I took a few days off when Norrin started his summer vacation. With no appointments or therapy on our schedule, I wanted to do something fun. Something memorable. Just us two.
We took this beautiful photo and I shared it on Instagram, but photos aren't always what they seem. Our day together was bittersweet. And it ended with both of us having a meltdown.
Blogger Event 12 of 13
As a blogger, I get invited to a few events. Some of them are extended to my family. I've always been hesitant to include Norrin. He doesn't do well in crowds and it's more stressful than fun for us. But I couldn't turn down the opportunity to check out the new Disney Infinity game. I knew it would be the perfect family blogging event for us. Norrin had a blast playing games and interacted really well. It was a good day.
Watching Fireworks 13 of 13
I've never been a fan of fireworks. The 4th of July in New York is too crazy and the noise has always frightened Norrin. But one of my biggest regrets from our Disney World vacation was that we didn't see the fireworks.
Yesterday, we took a drive out to one of our favorite (sort of) local amusement parks and we watched fireworks for the very first time. I went prepared with Norrin's headphones to reduce the noise. At first the noise startled him. But when he looked up at the sky and saw all the lights and colors...the expression on his face was just the perfect end to our summer.
We’ve had our share of challenges this summer. The change in routine completely threw Norrin off. It will take him a while to get back into a groove once school starts. But I can send him back to school knowing he had a good summer. I’m lucky to have captured these memories and moments of special firsts.
Did your child experience any summer firsts?
Read more of Lisa’s writing at AutismWonderland.