For many years, I’ve told every mom of a newly diagnosed child who has asked that “Routine Shall Set you free”. Our kids do much better with structure and sameness in daily routine. They struggle when things are out of routine. This is all fine and wonderful for those years where we are slagging through trying to just put one foot in front of another and keep breathing. And there are a lot of those years in autism. All you want is calm and peace, nothing matters but averting the inevitable meltdown. Avoiding meltdowns is very important, but using routine to do so has a drawback, and that draw back is the tendency of some (well, most) of our kids to become ritualistic and inflexible. The challenge then becomes bending, and adapting that routine when they are to a point that its appropriate.
So, why am I telling you this?
We are bending and challenging routine around here.
Our normal evening routine, when we have family TV night, is to have Dominic do his footbath, eat, put the ducks to bed, take his shower, brush teeth, and then pile into bed with us and watch Dr Who or something similar. Well, we are behind in Dr Who and the finale is this weekend, so we are trying to catch up. We wanted to start watching a little earlier last night… so here’s how it went down
Dominic had footbath AND dinner
We watched, from the sofa, the first Dr Who of the evening.
Dominic put the ducks to bed (all by himself, I doublechecked to make sure everything was right, but this is now his chore)
Dominic took a shower (we contemplated watching one without him, but when he heard the theme music, he ran naked into the living room to order us to PAUSE IT)
Dominic settled on the sofa with a bag of tortilla chips while we ate a pizza (he didn’t even try to sneak any, either, which was huge) and we watched a second Dr who
Then we brushed teeth and he went to bed.
BIG bending to the routine…
Today, Camp is going on a field trip to the Royal Gorge. Apparently there’s an amusement park and dinosaurs. Who knew?? Any way, they told me yesterday that we needed to not bring his backpack, because they couldn’t have it in the park. Dominic ALWAYS has his backpack near him, he does NOT like to take it off. The lead counselor actually told me that she knew he’d want it with him so if I couldn’t get him to leave it at home, they’d have him leave it on the bus. That’s just asking for a meltdown. So I started prepping him last night that we’d leave the backpack at home and only bring lunch and water bottle. I had to drop him off early this morning because they were leaving at 730am and I had a meeting at 7 – so we got up an hour early and dropped him at 630am. This is how the morning went…
I took a shower, was getting ready when I heard the house alarm go off. I ran to turn it off, and Dominic came downstairs holding the keys saying “Mommy, feed baby duckies”. He had unlocked the back door and was attempting to take care of the ducks. ( This is why we have a house alarm, btw. I recommend it, its $40/mo for peace of mind.) I finished getting ready, we fed the ducks, he had his breakfast and put his lunch in his backpack. I had to Strongly Encourage (but there were no tears or melting down) him to take the lunch and water bottle out of his bag and leave it here. He DID. He is now on a field trip WITHOUT his backpack. This is the first time ever he has gone to either camp or school without a backpack...
And he is smiling about it!!!!
That is his lunchbox. We love it, its got the freezer packs built in so there's no need to add an ice pack.
I know these seem like small things... and I want you to know how HUGE they really are...
Ps… following up on my last blog post, when I picked him up from camp yesterday, Dominic was happily playing tag (backpack on) with another child. There are multiple other spectrum kids there and the counselors related a story to me about how Dominic knows the rules and, ahem, encourages the other kids (spectrummy ones) to follow them. This looks like him walking with them and telling them no apparently. This amuses me significantly. I am so glad we have a child who fixates on making sure rules are followed.