Smells Like Christmas

John at his Culinary Tech Class
John at his Culinary Tech Class

A couple of months after we’ve finally settled down in our new home, an exciting development came our Johnny’s way.

Apart from adjusting easily to his new school and meeting new friends, he has developed (though, he loved cooking with me when he was young ) a penchant on culinary cooking. So, we enrolled him in a culinary tech class and yes, such a sweet sweet surprise!

John making awesome apple pies
John making awesome apple pies

All intent on his purpose of becoming a chef, John would pours his mind over how to prepare the meanest pies. From rolling and kneading of the dough for its crunchy crust to molding it into a perfect pie shell, the awesomely peeled and cored apples, the spices lined up like good platoon of soldiers waiting to be whisked into a gastronomic war of aroma and flavor—his focus is truly awe-inspiring—and yes, leading us to such an awesome home-made apple pie.

Aside from apple, he also loves working on pumpkin and meat pies (goodbye leftovers!), cottage and shepherd’s pie, and so on. Lately, he’s also has been creating fruit flans and now flakey pastries. He is eying a tarts section and a slew of ice cream concoctions he stumbled upon online.

We truly love the culinary school to bits. His chef Del Menchions is not only accommodating, he also nurtures his students encouraging them to give their full potential—and it is working as John seems to be always looking forward to his day in the kitchen no matter how tired he is.

John helping to make chocolate eclair
John helping to make chocolate eclair

While writing this right now, I can smell him cooking up something to perk my senses up. Amid his autism, my Johnny has always been caring and sensitive to the needs of those around him. Soon, he will join the “legally adult” league but I can now rest my head thinking that he will never go hungry with this new life skill.

Anyway, let me just refrain my thoughts on adult autism and its lack of services thereof. Today, I simply want to celebrate the thought of his newly acquired skills—and he truly aced it! He also got plans for Christmas dinner lined up and we are all dying in hopeless anticipation.

How about you, dear friends? How’s your loved one with autism doing? I fervently hope that amid the meltdowns and frustrations, something bigger and more forceful is coming up. It smells like Christmas once again and to some, this could be a challenge. Today, however, let me simply send you a HUGE HUG to keep the blues away.

Understanding Autism Behavior

A child who has autism can be quite a handful to parents, teachers, and to caregivers. One’s patience can be tested over and over again especially when one lacks knowledge about the symptoms. A person living with a child on the spectrum requires hands-on knowledge and understanding about Autism’s complexities and intricacies to better handle the situation and to easily navigate through the complex maze of developmental needs and interventions required to address a child-with-autism’s needs.

For parents who are battling this dilemma for the first time, it is important to know some of the unique behavioral characteristics that individuals with autism usually manifest. Though behavioral symptoms can vary by severity, age, and intervention level applied, these behavioral characteristics are often present separately or sometimes as a cluster:

Ritual and Routine

Children with autism easily get upset when their routine is interrupted, or when an object of their attention is taken away. Most, if not all, children with autism have specific ritual that involves mastering a specific skill as a way for them to feel at ease and secure in a given condition. Most also adheres to specific timeframe when addressing their needs.

Temper Tantrums or Meltdowns

It is “normal” for children living in the spectrum to display violent or destructive behavior. Some children may even injure themselves or others. They can also be uncontrollable physically and may start shaking violently. Some would seethe in anger and can keep still on the said condition over time. Though a “normal” manifestation, temper tantrums can be prevented when handled carefully. Behavioral interventions are often used as a therapy to kids with autism to prevent such meltdowns from happening.

Stereotyped, Repetitive, and Irregular Body Movements

Open display of irregular or stereotyped body movements is a common trait among children with autism. These movements are often involuntary, that is, they do not have any control over these movements. Children with autism are unaware of this manifestation. Often, these movements are displayed when nervous or when they are upset. Repetitive movements, on the other hand, are common denominator among individuals with autism. These movements usually deliver a sense of security and calming effect to them. Some of the most common irregular, stereotyped, and repetitive movements are fidgeting, tapping, rocking, grimacing, hand flapping and wringing, spasms, hopping/skipping, shrugging, and even mimicking other people’s actions.

Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior

Obsession is another common trait among children, teens, and even adults with autism. This could be over objects, subjective areas of interest, or certain themes. The problem with this “fixation” often affects behavior leading to compulsive actions. Children, for instance, can be fixated on an object like a toy, taking them apart, and then fixing them again closely observing how it works. Do take note that this so-called “fixation” encompasses certain intensity of focus but can also come to an end.

Oppositional Behavior

Children or teens on the spectrum may also scream, kick, or manifest unruly behavior when parents or caregiver remove him from a comfortable environment. All things and environment unfamiliar to a child with autism often draw out an oppositional behavior from them. This could be due to extreme anxiety, fear or sometimes anger from being uprooted from his fixation or comfortable environment. Parents who often encounter this problem may seek intervention by learning how to coach their child on how to adapt to new locations, situations or experiences