You’d Cry Too

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I like to try to explain things with bodily functions.
Because often with people/kids on the spectrum… some of the things that they do seem less important to others, when for them it’s a need, not a want.

So!
Imagine you REALLY had to go to the bathroom… you finally get to go, and mid-stream, someone MAKES you stop. Hold it… pull up your pants and come with them to the grocery store. Or come eat lunch. Or it’s time to do dishes.

That would seem like a form of punishment or torture right?
Not only would it make you upset, it would make you feel incredibly uncomfortable.
The whole time you’re supposed to be doing this other activity, in the back of your head, ALL you’re going to be able to think about is going back to the bathroom and finishing your business.
You might even plead with the person who made you stop!

“Please!? I’m almost done. Just a few more minutes. I’ll be quick. I’ll come right back and go with you…”

Now imagine a little kid… one who hasn’t had as much practice with social cues or “appropriateness” or who needs a little more help in areas you seem to do quite well in (after all… adults have had more practice).
Imagine that he’s watching cartoons (Or playing legos, or whatever)… and you need to leave to run an errand or it’s time for dinner, etc.

You tell them that it’s time to go. To stop what they’re doing and come with you.
To some on the spectrum, that can be a REALLY hard thing to do.
Their brain and their body are telling them it’s not time yet. They’re in the middle of something.
They can’t leave yet, they’re not finished.

So you get a little more stern…
“I said let’s go!”

It registers that they’re going to have to leave before they’re finished. So they get angry or upset or start crying…
Maybe they plead with you…
“PLEASE! Just a little bit longer! It’s not over yet! I’m not done!!!”

To you, this may seem like defiance (and hey… I don’t know your kid – maybe it is…), but more than likely it’s because they didn’t have enough time to prepare for what was going to happen. They didn’t have time to finish what they started.

Which is why transitions are a big thing within the Autism community.
Transition songs, transition actions or “warnings”….
I know some people who use timers… some who sing the clean up song while they’re cleaning, then they’re able to use it as a warning. They can start singing it in the background while they’re playing… to let them know what’s to come.  

It’s also one of the reasons routine can be such a big deal.
With routine, they know what’s coming. They know that they have enough time to finish their show, because every time it ends, that’s when we do… whatever.

So, the point I’m trying to make with this is, remember to try to be patient.
Nine times out of Ten, they’re probably not TRYING to give you a hard time… THEY are the ones having a hard time and communicating and expressing that stress or frustration in the only way they know how.

Instead of getting upset, try to find ways to help them through it.
Bedtime, we do the EXACT same thing… every night.
We never leave the house after that bedtime routine should be started.
We never stay out longer than we should… Company isn’t allowed over when we should start that routine (unless I know it’s not going to affect them specifically). Because their calm, and happiness, and understanding is important to me. And I don’t want to cause more stress and strain on them or me.

Sure, it means we might not get to really do a lot of fun things… but until they understand better and can cope better… they might have had fun “after hours”… but the chaos that would happen afterwards from rushing through or NOT having a bedtime routine… it wouldn’t be worth it in the end. (But that’s my kids! It’s just an explain… Not judging those who allow their kids to stay up late to do something fun. lol Maybe they can deal and don’t need that routine like my kids do.)

So really pay attention.
Are there areas with your kids (or grandkids or students) that they’re having excessive behaviors?
Do you think it could be helped by making sure they understand what’s coming next and better preparing them for it? So that their head and bodies aren’t shouting “What are you doing?!?!?! We’re not done!! Don’t leave!!!”

Maybe wait until the credits are rolling to leave… or ask to help them finish their lego masterpiece so that they’ll come do the dishes.

As always, I can’t tell you how to raise your kids… all I can do is notice what’s happening with mine and offer advice. 🙂

Each kid is unique and may need something completely different than the next in order to succeed in life. And that’s totally okay, we just need to figure out what it is, so we can help.

“If you’ve met one person with Autism…”

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“If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism.”

I’m not sure if people don’t understand that phrase very well, or it’s quickly forgotten.

Each and every single person on this planet is different. Where you find someone with similarities, you’ll find that those people also have massive differences. Between your interests, the foods you eat, your health, family, schooling, religion, parenting styles, ambition… there are so many things that you could potentially have in common or not in common with another person.

Even within your own family. Your parenting styles may be completely different than your parents. You could see completely eye to eye on something with someone… but apart from that one similarity, you couldn’t be more different.

And that’s a good thing! It’s what makes this world amazing! It’s what keeps life from getting boring. It’s what helps inspire others. Everyone can’t care about absolutely everything. On a very singular level, sure.

There are amazing people out there rescuing animals and saving their lives. There are people out there helping homeless people… there are people out there trying to find better ways to create, store and use energy.

We can’t ALL care and DO all of those things. On a small scale, sure. Like making sure we spay and neuter our pets, donating to food banks, conserving the electricity we use… But we all have lives to live. We have to make money to take care of ourselves and our family. But by everyone caring about something, we can all take care of our world together.

It’s the same with Autism.
We are NOT all the same, and it’s ridiculous to think that we are. Sure, we may have similar characteristics, have something in common… but besides being on the spectrum, Joe Shmo and I may have absolutely nothing else in common.

Some people on the spectrum might have the ability to talk, and others need help communicating. Some might have severe anxiety and others wander around without a care in the world. Or have severe sensory issues, where even soft clothing with no tags can feel like sand paper against their skin… but another needs deep pressure or to constantly feel textures because their body says they need it in order to feel normal.

So my child on the spectrum may be completely opposite of someone else’s child on the spectrum. Which is okay! That’s life. But we shouldn’t shame others or say ugly things to people because what we imagine Autism to be, is different for someone else.

Everyone’s experience with Autism will be different and unique.

And while I appreciate people trying to understand Autism, and be more aware… your cousin’s, friend’s, brother who has Autism… probably isn’t going to end up being the same as me or my kids who are on the spectrum. So you don’t “get it”. It’s really about the wording we’re using.

Things like that can seem irritating to Autistics or parents of autistics. Because the “if you’ve met one Person with Autism” rule applies.

But you know what you can say?
My cousin’s, friend’s brother is Autistic… and I think that’s pretty cool. He’s a really great kid. What’s Autism like for you? I’d like to learn more.

I don’t know too many people who would EVER turn down the opportunity to raise some awareness and share a bit about themselves or their children.

Lastly, for those who feel the need to compare and contrast people and kids on the spectrum and then belittle others for dissagreeing or having a different experience. The rule applies to you too.

Stop comparing.
It’s fun to find similarities… but stop disputing the differences. Everyone is different.

If you’ve met one person on this earth… you’ve met one person on this earth.