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Posts tagged ‘Routine’

Autism & Parenting: A Personal Tale

For many families with autism, the name Temple Grandin is well known. While Dr. Grandin is truly inspiring and a beacon of hope, for me the hero in that family goes by the same nickname as me and many of you, Mom… Eustacia Cutler.  I can’t imagine facing the challenges and decisions she made at a time when she did not have support of her community and services such as CARD like we have now.

I just want to note that if you are reading this, and you are a Mom (or a Dad taking on the role of Mom), you are doing an incredible job! One thing that Eustacia did not have to contend with is the undue pressure of social media to contend with setting an unrealistic standard of motherhood. It is human nature to only want to share the positive aspects of your life, but in doing so a much altered reality is portrayed. It is in the sharing our own struggles and asking for help that we can help each other and then truly celebrate the successes, however small.

Let me share with you a recent episode of my life that, at the time, I thought was definitely a mom failure on my part. I’ve gotten quite spoiled as of late with minimal meltdowns for the past couple of years by my ten year old. I can’t quite say that about myself, but of her I can.  Of course she would correct me and say, “Uh Mom, you mean disasters”. So this particular disaster was triggered by me forgetting a cardinal parenting rule.  Don’t commit to something you don’t deliver. The day before my daughter had asked me if we could stop somewhere on the way to school and get a breakfast sandwich (and a donut) instead of her eating at home or school as is the norm. I said, yes, and added quickly as long as you are ready early. However, I did not expound on that or provide a definition of what ready and early was.  She got up very early that day, but about five minutes before I intended to leave I checked on her and she was still in her PJs!!! It seems getting up early only provided her a chance to get distracted and lose track of time. With my reminder she jumped into action but at this point I knew we wouldn’t be able to stop and I made her breakfast.

We got in the car and I gave her the breakfast to eat on the way. She ate it without complaint and was singing along with the radio. Then we got to her school. She asked why we were there. I said, so you could go to school. She asked about stopping. I explained she wasn’t ready so we weren’t able to stop today. This is normally where in my spoiled state she would take it in stride and the day would keep going. But this time….it stopped. We pulled up to the car rider line where the safety patrol was and she wasn’t budging. So I pulled up further where the ESE teachers and Aides were and she was in tears and repeating, “I am not ready; I was supposed to go to the store”. They tried; I was out of the parked car at this point trying all my tricks. It wasn’t working. I was trying very hard to stay calm as I had to present to about a hundred people an hour later. I thanked the two teachers that stayed out there with me for the twenty minutes and told them I would drive around to the front office. There was a part of me that thought if you had just taken her and been late you could have avoided this. But I was not giving in. I drove to the front of the school, tried one more distraction reset, “Should we park on the right or the left?” in an animated voice.  “Insistence” was in the backseat still wanting her original plan.

We parked. I think she realized at that point I wasn’t giving in and so she got out of the car, rushed through the office and headed up to her classroom. I followed behind with her backpack, getting a classroom pass, etc.  I caught up with her at the top of the stairs. She told her teacher, “I am having a rough morning”, and I passed the torch. It was reported back to me that she ended up recovering well and having a great day. The next morning, she was ready to go 15 minutes before we were scheduled to leave without prompting from me. Maybe it wasn’t a failure after all?

I have long since given up the “I can do it on my own” pretense. I often call up my fellow parents, CARD consultants, family and friends when facing a new twist and turn.

  • Michele Jewell, CARD Constituency Board Chair

Summer Is Almost Here: Ways To Help Your Child Transition Smoothly

The end of school comes with mixed emotions. On one hand, it’s nice to have a break from the routine that the school year provides and on the other hand, IT’S A BREAK FROM THE ROUTINE THE SCHOOL YEAR PROVIDES! Changes in routines bring positive and negative stress and emotions. How can you help your child smoothly transition into summer?
1. Now is a good time to start talking to your child about the transition into summer time. Perhaps you can start getting their input about what they might like to do over the summer. Giving your child a sense of control is important. Although they cannot make all the decisions for themselves, incorporating their ideas makes them feel supported and validated.
2. It’s helpful to show kids a calendar so they can begin to mark off days until the last day of school. This provides a visual for kids and makes the time left in school easier to understand. They may want to pick a few days on the calendar to do something special for their teacher before the end of the year or plan a small celebration on the last day.
3. Another idea is to allow your child to take some pictures with their teacher, friends, classroom, etc. and make a little photo album to remember this year. They can even make a card for their teacher and put one of the pictures in it.
4. Over the summer, it is best to try to stick to as much of a routine as possible that mimics the school year. If you can continue to help kids stay on their same sleep schedule, even better. Waking and going to sleep at the same time during the summer will make the transition back to school in August that much easier.
5. Try to incorporate some academics over the summer. You can pick up inexpensive workbooks at bookstores or even the library that your child can work on over the summer to keep skills sharp. Make a goal for 1 page per week.
6. If your child has an IEP, pick one or two goals to try to focus on so not too many skills are lost.
7. Don’t assume your child is feeling a certain way about school ending. Talk to them about it. Let them know that however they are feeling (sad, nervous, excited, all of the above) are normal feelings that most kids feel when something is coming to an end and something new is beginning.
Erica DuPont, LCSW
ProTherapyPlus, LLC

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