I smiled as I heard the familiar 80's tune playing from my phone. Matthew had signed and asked to use my phone. This was progress since he used to just take my phone. Progress that was helped by a locked screen, mind you. The phone is not as much fun when you can't get into it! One of his favorite things to do is to play music from my iTunes. True Colors is one of his latest favorite songs to play.
While the rest of the song doesn't necessarily fit, I feel like the chorus could be Matthew's theme song. The songwriters, Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly didn't know Matthew when they wrote it. He wasn't even born yet! But when I hear that part of the song I feel like it was written just for him.
Matthew's True Colors:
Red is for his charismatic personality. He has a way of winning people over. There's something endearing about the way he can get people to do just what he wants without speaking a word. He takes a person's hand in his and somehow has a way of making that person feel special...that he chose them to hold his hand. Once that person feels special, they are like putty in his hand. A friend of ours was watching him for us one day after school last year. She sent me a picture of him in the baby swing at the park. I laughed and asked her, "How did you get him in there? He's too big!" She said, "Well, he really wanted to go in that swing." He can get the grandmas and grandpas to do all kinds of things from scratching his head and his back to swinging him from his ankles, just by being charming.
Orange is for his love of vacuums. If you read, Whatever it Takes, you already know that he loves vacuums. I don't think he has met a vacuum that he didn't like. There's a lot to love about vacuums; the rumbly sound, the slightly dusty smell, the feel of the air on your hands or face, the plastic to tap and the bumpy hoses to feel, etc. At Meet Your Teacher night, his new second grade teacher showed Matthew the vacuum she had bought just for him. The vacuum that he would be allowed to use on the classroom rug at the end of the day. (I would say his teacher knows something about winning people over too.) At school, he works to be able to watch the custodian use the vacuum or the floor cleaner (that's an extra special treat). There's a neighborhood Chinese restaurant that we used to go to and we would have to hold his hand extra tight when coming and going because he knew right where they kept their vacuum cleaner. One day, we were at a local department store and there was a worker vacuuming. Matthew had to sit down (criss cross applesauce) right there and watch him. This month we bought a new vacuum cleaner and almost every day he asks me to vacuum when we get home from school. My floors have never been so clean!
Yellow is for his love of music. Both on his ipad and my phone he will sit and pick music on my iTunes. He creates his own slideshows by picking a song and then going into the photos and looking through them. That is one of the reasons why I have so many pictures on my phone! Right now he is sitting next to me on the porch playing a video clip of Lady Antebellum in concert. He is playing it over and over and I think he likes the extra hooting and hollering of the fans. He will also select apps because he likes the music playing in the background. He will hold my phone up to his ear and listen very intently. He is obviously not too picky about his music though, because he will still ask me to sing to him. Abby and Rob can vouch that I can't sing, but Matthew doesn't seem to care.
Green is for his love of jumping. Ever since he could walk he has loved to jump! He also jumps when he is super excited about something. (After the store worker moved to another section of the store, but still within earshot, Matthew looked like a jumping bean. If jumping beans squealed and flapped, that is.) During therapy he is still able to get his therapists to "jump him". He faces his back to them and they pick him up at the waist and jump him into the air. It is definitely an upper body work-out for them, but there's going to come a day when they just can't physically lift him anymore. The week before school started we tried out Helium, which is a trampoline park. The place was something out of his dreams, I'm sure. There's no doubt that we will have to go back. A couple weeks ago we went on a bike ride, with me pedaling and Matthew in the ride along carrier. I swear I didn't pick this route to torture him, but we went past a festival and they had about 3 different bouncy areas and then we passed four different block parties, and they all had bouncy houses. I thought he was going to burst out of his skin! He signed "jump" at me the rest of the day.
Blue is for his sensory seeking ways. Touching: tapping garbage cans, wastebaskets, walls, orange cones, the inside of the freezer, boxes, coffee cups, etc., scratching box lids, bottoms of slippers, lids to coffee cups, the sides of the car, etc., pounding walls, doors, wastebaskets, garbage cans, etc., stimming by flapping his face with a kleenex, paper towel, receipts, his microphone with a plastic piece that hangs down, etc., Hearing: most of the touching from above creates sounds, music, the vibration of the car when the window is rolled down, shaking things to make noise, etc. Smelling: things before he eats them, Daddy's coffee, Mama's tea, bottoms of shoes and slippers, flowers, things made of plastic, rubber, wood, cardboard, etc.
Purple is for his ability to problem solve. An overturned wastebasket makes a tall stool. We find these right under closet doors with latches. Luckily for us, he has not figured out how to undue that particular latch...yet. In the laundry room he will overturn laundry baskets to get cleaning wipes on the shelves above the sink. Just today he wanted to get into the basement (which was latched). He stood on a giant package of toilet paper and this was the kind of latch he can undue. Fortunately, he was caught red-handed by Daddy. One night at dinner, Abby went into the kitchen to get something and when she returned she exclaimed, "Why do I have more green beans now?" We looked at Matthew's plate and he didn't have ANY on his plate. Pretty clever. If she would have been a green bean lover, she probably wouldn't have even noticed. As I mentioned in another post, he will make up signs for words if he doesn't know the sign. Then he consistently uses that sign to stand for that word. That takes some huge problem solving skills.
I know that he is at an age where his classmates and peers still accept him, because that's how they have always known him. As Abby often says, "That's just Matthew." But I'm sure there will come a time when someone will say something to him or make fun of him for the behaviors and loves mentioned above. I won't always be there to stop it or defend him, but maybe if I can keep reminding him of these words...