Friday, April 20, 2018

Autism at our house (2018 edition)

TIE fighter, our VIP & Blankie
We are well in to April which is Autism month.  The saying goes when you have met one child with autism you have met one child with autism.  So here is peak into our complicated world recently.

Last weekend we came thisclose to withdrawing him from a 2 day kids program at a family conference we were attending.  The sign up emphasized the loud environment and large groups the kids would be in and that special accommodations would be difficult for kids with special needs.  All things that we foresaw being barriers to him having an positive experience.

A few months ago he attended a Kids Night Out at the church we were attending, he had talked about it all week long and was super excited to play laser tag, a brand new experience for him.  It was in a space that was familiar and the staff was aware of his needs, (or so we thought).  After a successful drop off for him and his sister, I headed to the store, I hadn't gotten 10 minutes down the road when the phone rang.  He had had his first meltdown of the night.  Yes, I said first.  I returned to the event and helped him gather himself.  The painful part for me as mom was that he desperately wanted to stay and and play, but it was a stressful environment for him with chaos and crowds.  We calmed down and made a plan.  I left him and went home for dinner to be interrupted again and forced to stay with him so we could do what he wanted to do, since there was no one else to support him and look out for him in the crowds of kids. 

So with that recent experience we didn't expect the conference program to go well.  When we toured the program the day before they started he saw the bounce house. He wanted to do it.  And since only kids who attend the program get to use it he thought he would try it out.  He successfully attended all 4 sessions and had a great time.  We were so proud of him.  He used his backpack full of tools to help himself when he needed it.

Later this week we found ourselves at his first Soccer Practice.  He decided to play soccer on his own with his Physical Therapist and we signed him up.  I thought the cleats and shinguards would throw off his sensory systems but they didn't.  Shoes can be an issue.  We got the field, he asked me where the hot dog stand was, I didn't know one was required.  We met his inclusion aide and started practice with the team.  All was going OK until he was asked to repeat a drill.  He hit his breaking point, he asked,
"If everyone has a good working memory bank and I already learned this, 
why do i have to waste time doing it again?"  
I tried to reason with him, I reminded him he repeatedly does math problems, to which he reminded me I don't make him do the exact same ones again.

I didn't have an answer for him.  This set off a meltdown which included screaming and refusal to participate.  He shut down, over repeating an activity, I didn't see it coming, did you?  He sat safe in my lap the rest of practice watching his team scrimmage and we left early.

Did he have trouble because we spent most of the day away from home?  Was he still tired from our recent vacation?  Its tough trying to prepare a child to be in just the right mood for a given activity, to arrange the rest of your week around it so that he can do what others take for granted.

Our life is never boring and always changing.  I never know what might be a trigger.  We go with the flow and work towards the goal.  This is autism at our house.

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