Friday, December 28, 2007

Four Levels of Joy

I wanted to share some insight about how far Pamela has come in her ability to enjoy a full-blown large-family Christmas celebration without going into meltdown. Much of the credit goes to the Glasers and the Kings, who are the most supportive group of people anyone could desire.

First, you will notice as you watch and hear the clips that Pamela is surrounded by noise: seventeen people sometimes all talking at once in three languages (English, German, and Spanish), several speaking to Pamela at one time, plus the music in the background.

Second, you need to know that Pamela stayed through the entire celebration from beginning to end: she sat through the Christmas readings, listened to the Christmas carols (she was too hoarse to sing), and even contributed by signing "Silent Night" for everyone--can you say tissue moment? Then, she had no problems waiting patiently as each one of us opened presents, one by one, individually to allow us all to share in one another's joy.

Finally, you must know that Pamela could not have managed this with so much ease and enjoyment in her early childhood. From 1991 through 1994, Pamela coped with very large family gatherings by spending time in her escape hatch. At Great-Grandma's house, she played with the dolls under the bed in the guest room. At Tia Janet's, she studied the videos stored in Alyson's room. At Grandma's house, she sat on the bed in the master bedroom and watched television. She spent most of the time flitting around the room with her ears plugged and bolting to her escape hatch for peace and quiet. She had the occasional meltdown when we were too much for her. That last large family Christmas gathering was 1999 and she still needed lots of downtime.

Second of Twelve Gifts: Happy, But Not Joy
In this clip, Pamela received a Sweet Slumbers Bedtime Set. She is happy but does not rock in joy as you will see in later clips. Pamela briefly shows the gift to her grandmother on the left.

Eleventh of Twelve Gifts: Obviously Joyful
Pamela had asked for some kind of Moon Sand kit and was very delighted with the Moon Sand Pet Shop kit, selected due to her love of all things animals. Pamela smiles brightly and responds very nicely to a request to see her present. Then, she rocks to express her joy more completely.

First of Twelve Gifts: Surprised and Joyful
Pamela references beautifully in this gift from her Oma and Opa. The stuffed animal is contained in a plastic bag, and Pamela is unsure of how to open it. She thinks she can rip into the bag, but she turns to me and her Oma for reassurance. Once she realizes it is a huge Winnie-the-Pooh, she turns back to us again to share her joy with us, hugs her bear, and rocks in excitement.

Last of Twelve Gifts: Extreme Joy
Pamela waited patiently all night for Baby Alive, which we saved until the end. Pamela tells us that she plans to watch PBS Kids (which she does every weekday at noon) with her new baby. She was so excited that she carefully stood up and had to release her joy in a "victory lap." Many people with autism find ways to express joy physically like a football player does an end zone dance.

As promised, Pamela sits down every weekday at noon with her baby to watch PBS Kids for an hour. She has informed me that we now have FIVE members of our family, where there were previously four. She plans to celebrate New Year's Eve and Leap Day with her baby. When pressed for a name, she says, "No name" or "Baby Alive!"

Tomorrow, I plan to cover what tips have helped Pamela learn to enjoy herself, even in large gatherings. I will close with the gift that gave ME great joy: Jane Austen the Illustrated Library. This nine-pound book contains all six books with sketches and color plates and large enough print for Steve to read.


momof3feistykids said...

Cool! I love Jane Austen. :-)

I also love this post. You do such a beautiful job of reflecting Pamela's growth.

Prince Andrew and the Queen Mum said...

The Winnie the pooh clip made me cry. You should have called this one HOPE. Thanks so much for sharing what Pamela used to do at Christmas. I have been lamenting / boo-hooing over what has been 'lost' over the past few days. This post, the story and the clips show HOPE. Pamela is so filled with joy. I loved her sharing....totally incredible. Thanks Tammy for sharing.

Prince Andrew and the Queen Mum said...

me again- just coming back to watch the clips again. I love the 1st 9 second one... just a glance... oh so precious. HOw many people miss the meaning of the glance.

Astreil said...

I am so glad Pamela had a good Christmas. What a happy time! You are so lucky to have such a supportive family.

LAA and Family said...

I enjoy reading about how far Pamela has come thanks to your hard work and supportive family. Each year we cross more hurdles in celebrating Christmas with our son as well (though a few new ones usually pop up too.. all a part of life!). Haven't watched the video clips yet..have to wait 'til I have more time!

Bonnie said...

So much fun to watch Pamela open
the Winnie the Pooh and the doll!
Happy New Year!
Loved your Jane Austen book too!


Niffercoo said...

That was purely delightful to watch! I hope she and Baby Alive have fun watching PBS together! :)

And did that 9 pound book come with a warning label? Don't drop it on your toe! Ouch!

Happy New Year!

The Glasers said...

Queen Mum, I did not SEE it live because I was "playing Santa" (picking out presents for people to open, one by one). I was so glad I had my sisters film the entire event for me so that I would miss out on these precious moments! You are so right about those meaningful glances. She may not have said thanks in words, but her excitement was written all over her face.

Momof3feistykids and Bonnie, I think that book was one of the best presents I have ever received.

The Glasers said...

Nifferco, when I handed it to Steve for opening it, he joked that it was more bricks for our patio!

Mary said...

Like Pamela, Alan is happy with the gifts he has asked for. He does not show any interest in the ones he has not asked for, except for bookstore gift cards. Thank you for reflecting what your adjustments are and how Pamela responds when there are other people around.