The greatest irony in my life is my son. I am highly spontaneous. I don’t like to commit to anything until I’m sure that’s exactly what I want to do in any given moment. It drives the people around me crazy – the only trade-off is that once I decide they are guaranteed fun will be had! I am an ENFP, through and through. Honestly, I don’t know how else to be.
On the other hand, any changes in Tucker’s schedule will absolutely throw him for a loop. When he entered Kindergarten he had an enclosed clipboard, see below.
On the outside were two Velcro pieces for each period of the day, along with the times. For instance
and so on.
On the inside were Velcro pieces with the ‘activities’ of the day. Recess. Music, PE, Lunch, Reading, Centers, Etc..
Each morning when he arrived at school he would open up his clipboard and arrange his schedule for the day. Of course, he had an AMAZING Kindergarten teacher that was sure to have the day’s schedule up on the whiteboard before he arrived.
This was so helpful – he always knew what was coming next. His Kindergarten teacher laughed when telling me that he kept the class on track and that many other students were coming to him to find out what was next. Well – since that worked so well at school, I decided to try it at home.
So, I bought a great big chalkboard. We started that summer – doing a list every morning, by time. Yes – it drove me nuts. Yes – it was exactly what he needed. Every morning. In fact – sometimes right before bed he wanted to have the next day organized, just to be prepared.
I have a theory about Taco Stands. I don’t like to have a plan because of random taco stands. If I am traveling somewhere and have a tight schedule I would be unable to stop at a roadside taco stand. WHAT IF that taco stand had the best tacos ever? EVER?!?! Being so planned would not allow me to stop for a taco, and then I will have missed it. How sad…I like to allow for taco stands. Tucker, not so much.
So, we continued. All summer. Throughout the fall. By spring – we could plan a couple of days at a time with a little less detail. By the summer of his second grade year we were down to ‘important events of the week.’ We still have the chalkboard and it doesn’t get used very often – but it’s there just in case. One of the very important lessons we have learned about Autism is just when you think you have it figured out…the progress can disappear in minutes – with no rhyme or reason.
While he still doesn’t like surprises – he’s better with trusting the people who surprise him. For instance, last summer he asked me, ‘What’s the big deal with this butter cow on the news.” Gasp. I realized I had shirked my duties as an Iowa mother, he was 11 and had never seen the butter cow. I gave both of my children 30 minute to get dressed for the state fair.
So, off we went for a two-hour drive to Des Moines to a sensory overloading experience. I hedged my bets and talked about it ALLLL the way. We talked about things we could do if he…
or if something was bugging him
or if there were literally bugs
or if it was too noisy
or too bright
or too busy
The point was – is that it was US. Not what could HE do…but what WE could do. This included his sweet sister…she was part of the problem-solving. The trip? It went as well as I could have hoped for – the perfect type of trip….spontaneously planned.
See those eyes above? Those are the eyes at the Iowa State Fair…spontaneously, planned happy eyes…