Friday, November 30, 2012

Open Road But A Closed Mind

This is an update on a post from April so I reposted that blog entry below, as well.

That road that was closed six months ago?  You know, the detour into town that left Tate unable to breathe normally?  Well, the road is open and has been for almost two weeks.  Am I allowed to drive on it?  Absolutely not without much protest from Tate!  His routine of the past six months is now the new set-in-stone routine. The old route into town, although paved and widened, is now causing him great distress if we use it.  If it’s not one thing it’s another.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  Routine is everything to a kid with autism. 

Yesterday, Tate left his i-pad at school.  He went into panic mode when we arrived home.  I suggested he use his dad’s i-pad and get his in the morning when he returned to school.  He was beside himself until we got into the car and headed back down to school.  Why?  Because his i-pad belongs by his bed, plugged in to recharge every night when he goes to bed.  Changing the routine would make Tate miserable in a way that most people without autism could not even begin to understand.

Sometimes, we have no idea we are setting a precedent until one has already been set in his mind.  For years we have used an artificial Xmas tree that is stored in the attic.  About four years ago Shawn decided he wanted the kids to have the experience of cutting down a tree so we went to a tree farm.  I can’t remember if Tate protested or not.  Sometimes he looks at a new experience as an adventure and he gets excited.  Sometimes.  But not usually.  Tate has been telling us all week that he wants to put up our tree on Saturday.  Shawn and I are fine with putting up the tree this Saturday but, in the effort to save some money, we told Tate that we would be putting up the artificial tree from the attic.  We were not thinking about how he would take the news and it went badly.  I don’t think he got much sleep last night.  He went to sleep protesting about using the fake tree and he woke up protesting about the fake tree.  He doesn’t have anything against artificial Xmas trees.  He just doesn’t want to alter the routine we have set for getting the Xmas tree.  Sometimes, the drama and pain caused by change are too much for me to watch Tate go through and sometimes I am able to deal with it with less difficulty.  I am often able to think of the routine changes as good therapy for a boy who needs to learn to become more flexible.   

Under Construction  (Repost of entry from April, 2012)

The main road between us and our small town is undergoing some major renovations.  The power company and other utilities have been digging and moving things for months.  We’ve watched the backhoes and other machinery come and go and I have commented to the kids several times about the road into town being widened.  This morning there was a sign up that said “Road closed beginning April 24.”  Tate snapped to attention when he saw that sign and began protesting and asking questions.  You would have thought he was one of the business owners on the strip that have been complaining loudly about losing income while the road is widened. 
I have been dreading the day the road will close because it has the potential to make our daily trek into school stressful for Tate; and, when Tate is stressed, everybody is stressed.  Starting his morning out with a detour will not be easy.
When Tate was really young and we had to take an alternate route to a familiar place he would become anxious and cry sometimes.  He could read at a young age and recognize road signs and he became upset when he saw a detour sign, even on an unfamiliar road.  At first I thought he was bothered by the bright orange color of the detour signs.  He could not verbalize his thoughts or fears to me.  I understand now that many people with autism like to do the same thing, the same way every time.  He associated the word “detour” with “change” or “different” and these things are scary.
Two or three years ago, one of the major roads going the other direction was closed for a couple of months while a new overpass was being built.  We had to use a temporary detour road that was new and built to accommodate traffic through that area.  Tate had a major problem with going on “the new road.”  He would protest and tell me we were going the wrong way.  I explained over and over why we were using the different road for a short time.  We weren’t so dependent on that route so I was able to avoid it most of the time.  After we had used the temporary road for a couple of months he stopped protesting quite so loudly but always commented on it.  I think the new route in to school will be accepted after a couple of weeks because Tate is maturing and learning to be more flexible all the time.  I just wish he didn’t have to deal with the anxiety initially.  I suppose it will get easier all the time.  Tate is also “under construction” just like the road. 

No comments:

Post a Comment