Above is a picture I created that “depicts” what can happen.
In my experience “verbal” children with Autism like Jr can be assisted and accommodated a little better than children who are “non verbal.” I don’t have any “direct” experience with children who are non-verbal. I have offered advice to my friends and from the responses I’ve received it’s helped them “a little bit” however we are all aware that they may require “professional help and guidance to be 100% effective.”
I’ve learned that not all “special events or holidays” will be able to be celebrated. For those that we do partake in, it’s important to keep the time frame to a minimum and prepare ourselves for the worst; while expecting the best.
I haven’t taken Jr to a family event since the summertime.
Mainly because “everyone’s parenting isn’t feasible in regards to his needs and our preferences.”
For example, I have family and friends that have a tendency to “discipline other people’s children without justifiable cause, reasonable tactics or empathy” and that will NOT work with Jr or for me/his father.
It will not work with Jr, because he doesn’t “know” you. He also “seeks” my approval, because I taught him to do so (When he’s not at school).
I prefer “people” to inform me before speaking to or redirecting Jr, because they may be “chastising or disciplining” him for something that’s directly characteristic of his Autism; nothing more and nothing less. I try not to be overbearing because as he get’s older “he can and he does, speak for himself!” I must protect him and educate them “At all times!”
In addition, I also have family and friends who have a tendency to “yell” at their children. Don’t get me wrong I have my moments “where I too yell” yet Jr “understands that I yell out of frustration, rather than discontent” and he’s accustomed to my parenting. However it’s infrequent that I’m directing that tone towards Jr.
I’ll tell Jr “Mommy is in a bad head space, or Mommy’s serious” so that he’ll know it’s time for him to go into his room and give me some space so I can regroup.
Jr can’t “take noise.” He can’t take any kind of noise, especially loud noises whether it’s a voice, sound from a tv, machine, etc. I have had to “adjust” my voice to accommodate his needs and to support my parenting skills.
Lights can also be an issue. There’s often times where we have to come inside because the natural sunlight is bothering him and his sunglasses simply aren’t enough to protect him. Then we have frequent occasions where we “turn out the lights in the room he’s occupying” so that his eyes can rest and he won’t be irritated. It’s irritating because I’m beyond embarrassment, when people stare or “question” why he’s wearing them.
Food “is also an issue” my family and friends ALL cook with “garlic!” My husband is allergic to garlic and beef so my son and I rarely consume it. Jr is accustomed to eating Turkey, Chicken, Fish and Pork with little to no seasoning. He has sensory and touch issues which means that if the food doesn’t “look, feel, or smell” right then he won’t eat it.
I have tried for years to “make” Jr eat when we’re out. He will not do it; unless “he’s actually hungry or the food is prepared to his liking.”
Honestly, I am “tired and done with” arguing or telling people that he’s okay.
I have gotten to the point where I don’t want to take him places because it’s easier than having my “parenting, his eating habits, etc.” questioned or challenged.
As his mother that loves him dearly, I should never be in “a place emotionally” where I “avoid” taking my son with me places simply to avoid “adults ignorance or insensitivity.”
With all that being said…. as badly as I wanted to “be around” my family or my husband’s family; it simply isn’t feasible or realistic at this time.
For Thanksgiving we had “quality over quantity” and only a few of my inlaws came over.
I enjoyed it because even though Jr was “anxious” he remained in his room “his comfort zone” during the majority of their visit. He came down a few times and spoke, engaged his older cousin for about 15 minutes, then he came to bid everyone farewell at the end of the night. It was “great!”
It was great, because his father and I didn’t have to worry about “where he was, who was watching or listening out for him” we also didn’t have to worry about him wandering off, or getting frustrated; because he’s at home “his ultimate comfort zone!”
So I offer you this:
1. Create a plan of action for the event you plan on attending. So if it’s indoors “ensure you have ear buds” or something that they enjoy that can “occupy” them or “suppress” sound. If it’s outdoors, make sure you have their favorite snack, plenty of water, etc.. to accommodate their wants and needs!
2. Stand your ground in regards to “your parenting based on their characteristics” don’t let anyone make you feel bad and don’t let anyone challenge you.
3. Make it clear to the people you’re visiting with that “leaving early” will be a “new norm” for you and your family due to their characteristics.
4. Remind people that “physical disciplining I.e., spanking” will NOT prevent or STOP a meltdown. Nor will it “redirect” a behavior. Trust me, I’ve tried with Jr. He became accustomed to me popping him on his hand, so he learned to “tolerate” the pain and he also learned to “expect it” so he eventually became immune to it. The only form of “discipline” that works is “taking away privileges” because the yelling and fussing only “irritates him and makes him sleepy.” I’ve seen him “literally” change his behavior once he realizes his “technology” time has been limited or completely taken away.
5. Don’t be afraid to “ex-communicate” from family and friends who “do not” have children or individuals with “Special Needs” in their family unit. I say that because “birds of a feather flock together.” I’ve been dedicating my time to “making time” for friends of mine that also have “Bipolar” and their children they have conditions such as Autism, ADD, ADHD, to name a few. I’m doing that “going forward” in his life, because he needs that and so do I. Even with our frustration as parents, it works out because we’re all leading similar if not identical lifestyles. We understand each other. We support each other. We are each other.
I want you to know that you are loved, understood, wanted and needed!