[April Is Autism Month] How Shaking Things Up Is A Slippery Slope In Our Household

According to my horoscope for today, April 12th, I need to acknowledge the desire to shake things up a bit. Hmmm, what could I possibly shake without disrupting the routine in my household?

Friday, Apr 12th, 2013
You are often the champion of responsibility, yet today your key planet, Saturn, receives an electric jab from spontaneous Uranus, prompting you to make a quick escape. But this exciting cosmic zap also sends mixed signals to your brain because you are nervous about running out on a promise. Even if you decide to play the energy conservatively, don’t deny your feelings. Acknowledging your desire to shake things up may be enough to keep things together for now.

Since April is Autism month, let me point out that shaking things up is futile where routine is important in my Autistic daughter’s life. One different direction away from the routine and you can bet your bottom we’ll be going back from the beginning to do it again as it should be done. Let me give you an example from our morning routine. I walk my daughter to the bus stop which is at the end of the road, about a 5-minute walk from our house, depending how slow Emma walks. It’s raining today so Daddy offered to drive us to the bus stop so we don’t have to take that rainy walk even though we have an umbrella. Sounds convenient and sensible, no? I said thanks but no thanks.

If we did that this morning Emma would expect us to be driven to the bus stop everyday. Then say NO, as simple as that, right? Well, it’s not that simple with my autistic child.

Her morning routine goes something like this: Mommy wakes her up, many times. She’ll pretend to go back to sleep. Mommy says, “I guess you’re not going to school then“, she protests, gets up, then stretches. She goes to the bathroom, then tells Mommy she wants to go back to sleep, Mommy tells her she can’t coz she has to go to school. She forces her way to the living room, lays down in the couch and we go through our 5-minute dance of “get up, get change, you’re going to be late.” Then we go to the bathroom so we could both brush our teeth, then I’ll fix her hair. We’re out the door by 7am to walk to the bus stop.

(*NOTE: Breakfast is free in school and bubble bath is done at night before bedtime. Just in case you’re curious.)

Breaking, changing, or disrupting this routine will affect her day in school and throughout the day. The right term here is: MELTDOWN. This will inevitably make me want to pull my hair out or lock myself in the bathroom to have a 2-minute quiet scream. IF there’s an itty bitty small change then that’s ok. She can handle it but it’ll depend how we present and do it in a way we know won’t set her off. We’re not always successful if/when that happens but most often than not we know the best approach to do it so all’s well that ends well. We learn by practice and understanding how she dances to her own music.

To give my horoscope some credit though it only said to “acknowledge your desire to shake things up a bit“, so here I am acknowledging it but not necessarily doing anything to shake things up. I can however shake my booty to work the food off from our vacation. Now that I can certainly do.

About Dexie J Wharton

Mother of 2. She drinks a lot of coffee on weekdays and she drinks wine on the weekend. She also eats a lot of chocolate, pork, and sushi.