Monday, February 28, 2005

Change in routine? By all means, yes!

Way back in the old days, before Will was diagnosed and only around two years old, we knew something wasn't quite right. His language acquisition had stalled, he wasn't as interested in the outside world, didn't point to things, didn't flirt with waitresses at restaurants like he used to, and any myriad of other small, quiet changes. Nothing radical, just very small changes.

But we were still unaware. Just by accident, we had a very constantly changing environment. We moved to a new state across the country when he was fifteen months. We were building a house, so we lived in Grandma and Grandpa's house for almost a year while the new house was being built. We were constantly doing new things. Quite by accident, we were ALWAYS changing Will's routine.

I'm a real advocate of CHANGING THE ROUTINE. Do something new every day. Drive different routes to and from home. Don't let your child wear the same type of clothing every day. Don't let them eat the same thing. Mix it up. Make changes in routine THE ROUTINE! During this stage of life, my husband worked in an office by himself, so at lunch time he would pick Will and I up and we would go out to lunch probably three days out of the week. When we look back on this period we feel bad because we spent so much money doing this, but we also are convinced that this helped Will get used to new people, lots of noise, and changes in routine. We went somewhere new every day. As Will grew older, we used the restaurant experience to teach him social skills -- having to look at the waiter or waitress, ordering his own meal, and picking up on the occasions when the waiter or waitress was paying Will special attention because he was a cute little guy.

I don't know if this would work with all kids on the spectrum, but I think it is worth a try. In the beginning it could be painful [lots of crying from your child, lots of resistance] but ultimately it could make future changes in routine easier, and make the anxiety your child feels from changes in his future less and less as he/she gets used to new experiences.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Asperger Toolbox -- First blogversation

Just by way of introduction, my name is Kris. I'm the mother of two young men with Asperger's [and a daughter without!], and the adventure has been quite a nice, long trip without a road map. There is probably more than a bit of Asperger's in our family tree, with my best guess being my father AND my father-in-law, and I think of my husband as kind of a translator.

My son Will was diagnosed when he was almost 5, almost four years ago, with PDD-NOS [Pervasive Developmental Delay -- Not Otherwise Specified]. It seemed to be devastating news at the time, but as I began to read books on the subject, I realized that those books also helped me to understand my older son, who was 15 at the time.

I'm going to try and post when an idea occurs to me that might be helpful -- ideas that have been helpful to my sons in the past, ideas that are making life easier for my son currently, and ideas that might be good conversation between all of us as parents of children with Asperger's. I am in total agreement that Asperger's is the kind of syndrome that does not need to be "fixed" but, having said that, if I can give my son a boost in a helpful way, help him to feel comfortable, make friends, feel like he belongs, I'm going to do it. If I can make one more social situation fun or happy for him, then it's a worthwhile success.

I look forward to hearing from any of you out there with your own good ideas. Sometimes there are ideas that come to us in the middle of the night, on the train, in the car, and often these are not things we've heard at autism conferences or read in any of our specialized books.



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