Bittersweet Memories

We’re moving to the country at the end of this month! I’ll post some on that another time. However, we need to downsize a bit . . . in a good way. So, I’ve been trying to put some of my newfound desire to throw things out into effect . . . not typically part of my past nature . . . and it feels good. But today, I was going through my armoire/bookshelf unit in the family room, which is where I have kept my ABA therapy supplies I used with my two boys with autism in the day that they were intensely learning to speak, for instance.

We stopped most formal therapy back in 2002. Though, ABA principles are how Adam (15) still learns today. In this middle cabinet are shoebox sized clear storage containers with oodles and oodles of cards. Adam LOVES to match, so I would make cards for everything! I came across the word cards we used when he learned to read . . . tossed them. Ah, there are the color coded question cards with verbal/visual matched answer card for the 100 questions he learned when he had a short foray in a public kindergarten, and I wanted to prove to the administration that a child “like Adam” could successfully participate in their fund raiser (he was one of only a few children in the whole school who answered 100% correctly). What’s funny is he still remembers those questions. The thing I’ve discovered about Adam’s autism is that he never deletes anything, which would make it difficult to make room for more important things, one would think. Kinda like my hanging on to these cards.

I found the conversation cards we used; I decided to keep those. Same with all those emotion cards that Adam loved so much. With the advent of the Internet, where, if you want any type of picture, all you need to do is google image and find a hundred to choose from, all of my meticulously acquired visual pictures of various objects are deemed obsolete. But, how can I just throw them away after literally hours upon hours of scouring magazines for just the right pictures to use to help Adam or Alex learn the word . . . in double, no less. And, I hand lamanated them with contact paper . . . hundreds of pictures.

Times sure have changed. What a blessing for those who are helping their children with autism today! But, one can’t replace the individualized photos I have to bring the words alive in his own life. The picture of his chair, or his blanket, or his hammer set, or the alphabet puzzle he loved. Or how about those emotion pictures of his siblings, his father (and my hubby), and myself. Look how young we were! And, yes, I even have photos of Adam pointing in the grocery store, his sister waving in McDonalds, and my hubby pumping gas at the gas station. So, if you see a strange woman taking pictures in public places where you don’t normally see a camera, she might just have a child with autism!

I did toss quite a bit. However, nostalgia and sheer bittersweet memory had me hold on to quite a bit. The likelihood is that some of my children may have children with autism themselves. My oldest son and daughter have asked me about this. I’ve said that they can take one child at a time and see what happens. The bottom line is that they will have a grandma (me) who knows a lot about helping, and she’ll have a bunch of cards to start them out 🙂

I kept the buckets to six. Maybe as more time passes, I’ll be able to throw out more. But, for now, they stay as a reminder of where we’ve been, in order to remember to enjoy where we are today.

3 responses to “Bittersweet Memories

  1. Hi, it’s good to see you back! Thanks for the lovely comment to my adoption post…

    I also took pictures and used them to make learning cards for M and R. I didn’t make as many as you did but the ones I made did their job well, and I’ve kept them. Not for learning, but for the memories of my kid’s sweet toddler and preschool years.

    I can’t wait to hear more about your move to the country! Do keep us posted!!

  2. I know how you feal about throwing stuff out! I say, buckets store easily enough and you’ll know if/when there is a time you don’t need it.

    Thanks for your comment about my negative first responder! The right braind stuff does really fit. I read through some of your pages and the reading one really struck a chord.

  3. I’m so glad you are back to blogging, Cindy. I can relate to the difficulty of throwing out old mementos. I have been using lots of match-up cards for my Aidan since he too enjoys them very much.

    One thing I sometimes do with old mementos is take a photo. That may not work with stacks of cards, but it works for things like old notebook pages and 3D paper creations — I get to keep the memory but get rid of the space-waster. Just an idea. Best wishes on your upcoming move.