Break Time?

Filed Under (Acceptance, Adam, autism, Transitions) by Estee on 12-03-2010

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I was taking a forced break this week. I contracted that nasty stomach flu last Friday and today is the first day I’m feeling better. It’ll knock you down off your feet if you get it.

I realized too that it was a forced break and how I push myself too hard. I had been moving and fixing this new house for a year, I’m still doing it, I tried (with success) to transition Adam through a difficult time moving homes and then I suppose I should not be surprised that I got that nasty flu bug.

I got to thinking about how we push through things and quality of life. I’m a real doer by nature and compulsive at that. I often put way too much on my plate until I realize I simply cannot complete all the things I set out for myself. I don’t like to call it ‘setting myself up for failure,’ but rather just that I still need to learn that compulsive doing is perhaps a way to avoid other things (which granted, I’ve been dealing with), and it’s just time to slow down and catch my breath.

We do it with our children too. We can throw so many things at them and change the course too soon. We doubt their schooling, their programs and we throw, oftentimes, too much at them to see “what will work” (to make them “better” or “progress”). Despite my intellectual knowing that this can create stress on children as well as adults and stress hinders any kind of progress, I’ll admit that I have the same feelings as many other parents out there. Thankfully, for the most part with Adam, I’ve stayed the course, that is, once we found the course that seemed right for him.

Adam and I are due for a break soon — to enjoy our new house, take leisurely walks in our new neighbourhood — to learn the routes that Adam enjoys creating to soothe himself and feel at home. We need to play a board game and some more Go Fish. We were doing nicely with that game. I helped Adam turn-take by using visual cues and the joy of this is, we are enjoying each other’s company in playing it.

I am feeling better now and Adam has been smiling a lot in his new home. One of my strategies was to bring Adam home early from school with his aide and surround him with familiar people, and this helped a great deal. It took three weeks before I really saw him begin to settle in. As you may remember from previous posts, he was having severe spasms that made us very worried about him, not to mention extreme sleep difficulties. Anxiety will create sleep difficulties in anyone, not just autistic people. In order to ease his anxiety, I’ve followed Adam’s lead and have tried to stay on top of when he is about to become over-aroused so I can redirect him to something less upsetting. Adam is pretty good at trying to do all of this for himself, but there are simply times, as he is still a child remember, that he needs some guidance and support. It strikes me as odd that we expect our autistic children to “behave better,” and do not consider the stressors in their lives with more deliberation and compassion. It was when I wrote down many notes about Adam’s behaviour during this transition, for there came a point that I didn’t know what else to do, that I not only came to see the patterns clearly, but I, as his parent, could settle down myself. My worries and expectations about Adam may have been so high, that I forgot to slow down for him too. I thought I had charted a pretty good course, but it wasn’t exactly what he had needed. It was at this point I decided to bring him home early from school for two weeks and enable him to have fun in his new home. It was also at this point that we began to see positive results.

Transitions are one thing — they are very difficult for all children, autistic people and especially for Adam. During these times, we have to take more time out of our “regular” routines to accommodate our autistic children. Sometimes we think we are doing everything we can and we can become frustrated with our efforts as parents. When we take the time to look carefully, it becomes easier to alter the accommodation to meet the person’s needs.

So we’ve come this far, and indeed I’ve learned another valuable lesson. Now….BREAK TIME! (Or maybe some Go Fish).

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About Me


ESTÉE KLAR

I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com), and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.