April 2nd is designated as Autism Awareness Day.
I decided not to post on that day. You see, for some of us, every day is Autism Awareness Day.
If you know my story, then you know a couple of years ago my husband and I became our daughter’s legal guardians. She is 20 years old, autistic, and developmentally delayed. Her vocabulary is extremely limited. To say life can be a challenge is often an understatement. Still, over the past 20 years we’ve managed as best as we can with numerous health care, and, social service providers. We lean on each other, and we’re committed to do what we can to care for our daughter.
I decided to write a few posts this month about simple, everyday happenings. Our daughter has allowed my husband and me into her world. I can’t really express what’s on her mind. I can only hope to give you a glimpse of what she experiences. We love her very deeply. As you may imagine, she’s also quite unique.
“My daughter has become a tea drinker,” my husband lamented incredulously. I just laughed. Then shook his head and laughed along with me.
Deciding to drink a cup of coffee, tea, or some other beverage is an activity that most adults take for granted. You brew your own, or you pull up to a window and order some variation of a large, fully-leaded with extra something.
So, while my husband is coffee, I am tea! That said, I often make his coffee in the morning. I love to do that for him!
Our daughter doesn’t generally make those choices. Around 5 years ago she was finally able to say the word, “juice” which is a catch-all for something to drink. Perhaps at some point in the future she’ll learn more words. Language is always a work in progress.
So, what kicked off the tea drinking?
At the start of this year the three of us were trading colds and coughs. We were also dealing with severe seasonal allergies. Overall we weren’t doing very well.
I grew up on the receiving end of my grandmother’s home remedies. She brewed tea and added lemon and honey to sooth the throat and help clear the sinuses.
I made some and offered it to my husband. Surprisingly, he was open to having a cup.
We decided to give the brew to our daughter. We let the hot tea cool a bit, then asked her to sit down at the table.
She touched the cup and drew her hands away. I told her it was hot, but she needed to stay sitting down so she could drink it.
We used a ceramic Christmas cup that was given to her as a gift a few years ago. It’s red with Rudolph on one side and Santa on the other. For her, the season doesn’t matter. She could enjoy Christmas items at any time of year.
We tried to show her how to pick up the cup by the handle. She didn’t respond to that, so she rapidly tapped her fingers repeatedly against the warm cup until she was able to hold it with two hands.
Trying to gulp it, she swallowed then threw her head back. Then she shook her head rapidly from side to side, her hands tense. We told her to slow down and relax. She wasn’t going anywhere, and she needed to finish her tea. She tried it again. She began to sip it.
Over the next few days we continued to give her tea in the morning and the evening. It seemed to help sooth her throat and loosen all the junk in her chest.
The following week I made her other types of tea. My husband asked why I was still doing that since she was feeling better.
I noticed in the morning she’d come to the table and take a few minutes to drink it.
Often during the week tea time was followed by an appointment with a therapist so the pause was a good thing.
In the evening it was a way to wind down just before bed time.
It was now part of the routine.
My husband commented about our daughter becoming a tea drinker, because he saw me stocking the pantry. There seemed to be some flavors she was enjoying so I figured she should have her own supply.
It may not seem like much to most people, but for us, introducing a warm beverage to our daughter was one more sign of progress, one more advancement for her. Years ago this could have left all three of us exhausted and frazzled.
Not this time. Instead, we were pleasantly surprised!