Children With Autism Have Very Rigid Behaviors
Tonight I watched some of my family’s past home video. It took me back to a time in my life that was extremely stressful, lonely, tumultuous and rigid. Allow me to share a few experiences with you! Autism, in my household looked something like this:
Everything in our house has its place. The furniture, our cookie jar, delightfully framed family photographs sitting on each end table. I think you get the idea. If you were to move anything out of its original order, my child would have a tremendous meltdown. Sometimes these meltdowns could last over an hour!
One sunny spring afternoon, I was taking one of my routine trips to the grocery store to re-stock my pantry. On this particular day, the traffic was unbearable. In the spur of the moment I decided to take the scenic route home. OMG! My child started to scream bloody murder. I had no idea what was wrong. I drove home and sat in the car for 45 minutes listening to these blood curdling screams. But, on a whim I decided to drive my vehicle back to the starting point of the screaming, and take my normal route home. The minute we reached the destination where the screaming began, as quickly as it started, it ended as I headed home on our regular route.
For three years Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall I followed my child, like in the Forest Gump movie, around the block a good ten times a day, if not more -- over and over again. I would see our neighborhood friends leaving for work and returning at the end of a long work day.
I couldn’t stop to visit because my son was on a mission just to keep running. Every once in awhile while he would decide to thoroughly inspect a neighbor’s vehicle from top to bottom. This took place in their driveways and it could last 30 to 40 minutes! God bless the neighbor who was leaving to go to work, because in most cases they would be late. My child wasn’t going anywhere until he was good and ready to do so...thankfully most everyone knew my child had a diagnosis of autism they were well educated through trial and error (: . The experienced first hand what happens when you interfere…!!
My son loved his video tapes. He played the same one over and over and over again, I tried to pull him away to go outside one afternoon however it wasn’t quite over as the credits were still rolling ... MISTAKE I learned never to do that again choosing my battles wisely. My child watched these video tapes until it completely fell apart, we learned to always buy duplicates because, when he went looking for the broken tape and found it, he would actually try to jam it into the VCR going completely insane. We lived and we learned and duplicate copies were a given.
Today is nothing like the nightmares that once were. I knew of a few treatments: GFCF (Gluten & Casein-Free Diet) and I purchased OTC vitamins for ADHD. Basically I was his social coach, I integrated him with other children and we read social stories daily. Flash cards were presented over and over eventually building sentences to teach him reading comprehension. (My son could read a book cover to cover, but ask him any questions -- there was no response.) I just spent most of my time and patience giving a tremendous amount of love to this kid. When he entered school I became his #1 advocate, working extremely close with his teachers and making myself a part of the school team(: Yep!
With times especially so challenging, hopefully this will encourage another parent that they too can do this! I didn’t invest a penny. The investment as I noted were a tremendous amount of time a lot of patience, love and encouragement. Enlisting a great support system, family, neighbors, teachers and therapists was key. This isn’t for everyone and all children are different, but it worked for me and it worked for my child Jordan.
In closing--my beautiful son Jordan is 17, he has a driver’s license, plays sports, has a wonderful social circle of friends and is an excellent student. His goal is to enter into sports broadcasting and I have no doubt that he will live and fulfill his dreams.
You can read my book From Autism to All-Star to learn more about my journey with Jordan.