The blog is growing and just in case you have recently joined us. This paragraph is for you….
I began this blog 233 days ago as an ode to my son, Tucker. I committed to writing 366 days in a row. I chose 366 as a theme because of leap year. What a strange, unexplainable occurrence just like autism itself. Leap year isn’t wrong, we still ‘count’ it. But it’s just different. A child with autism isn’t wrong, just different. They have a little extra something…just like an extra day in the year. I committed to write every day one story or resource every day. No matter how busy or tired I am…because this boy who is my heart, my tear, my pep, my breath – he deserves it. Begin here…Day #1 – The Journey
For those of you who have been reading – yes, I’m still searching for agents and publishers. So many of you have reached out to me wanting a paper copy to give as gifts or have as handy resources. Trust me, as soon as something is in place – I will let you know.
I feel like I’m in class and now that I have completed announcements I can actually move on with the day! HA!
It’s springtime in Iowa – springtime in Spectrumland. My Facebook feed is full of my friends and their children playing at the playground. I love these pictures – they make me sad and wistful, longing and hoping, happy and hopeful all at the same time.
It’s part of the hypersensitivity to movement within the vestibular system. For more information read:
From http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/sensory-processing-disorder-checklist.html signs of vestibular dysfunction:
_x_avoids/dislikes playground equipment; i.e., swings, ladders, slides, or merry-go-rounds
_x_ avoids rapid or rotating movements
I’m not just referring to roller coasters here -plenty of folks don’t like those. Many children with autism will avoid or dislike playground equipment. Especially swings, ladders, slides and/or merry-go-rounds. Seems strange? Right? If these children like to crash and move around and bump into things why would they avoid this ‘meant-for-play’ equipment?
Remember Day #126 – I Want to Ride My Bicycle? Taking a child with autism off their feet equals, well – prepare for a complete melt-down. Remember Day #56 – Elephant on the Stairs? That vestibular sense again! When their feet are off the ground they lose their goundedness and feel even more out of place. What to do? We’ve used two very different strategies.
Strategy 1: Distraction
With all things spectrum related, use distraction. Seriously – we are the masters of diversion.
Use distraction. Help them find something different to focus on. My only problem with using distraction too often is that then we never help him face the fears. We never develop coping strategies to help us really experience and live life. So, I generally choose to go with being present to teach ‘gradual coping.’
Strategy 2: Be Present
No matter what has happened in Tucker’s life we have been there. Yes, it takes more time – yes, it takes increased patience, but the return? The return is unmeasurable.
It’s just one way that he has helped me become a better parent. We *should* behave this way anyway…but life is life. Life is simply too busy. With Tucker, I learned how to slow down…I learned that I had to be more present.
Tucker was afraid to swing. So, I would swing gently with him on my lap. Gradually, ever so gradually we would go a bit higher and a bit higher.
Tucker afraid to go down the slide. So, we started with a very small slide and I would hold his hand all the way down. Then, a larger slide with him between my legs. Gradually, ever so gradually we would go a bit faster.
Tucker was afraid of the merry-go-round. So, I sat beside him with our legs dangling just pushing gently. Gradually, ever so gradually we would go a little faster and I would move further from him.
You are their safety net – be there. Teach them. Be a part of it. Allow these very special children to experience the simple thrills of life. Trust me, it’s worth it…even if you have to run to vomit after too many go-arounds on the merry-go-round.