Yesterday evening, I picked up the boys from the in-laws and we went home. I decided to take them on a walk around the block. My Charity Miles says its about 0.5 miles.
I have been trying to teach the boys the importance of looking for cars before crossing the street. This has been a lesson since they could walk.
Ash is two and gets distracted by his destination and Tyler has autism with no sense of danger in his environment. The only hope is to ingrain this in them via memorization and not function.
My teaching style is usually based on the reason. You act one way and you get this result. For crossing the street, I have to abandon this and just stick to, you have to stop and look for cars.
We did not do well for this last night. My backup, Tyler has to hold my hand when we walk. He is used to this now. I couldn’t hardly get the car doors closed and locked because he was freaking out that I wasn’t holding his hand yet.
Ash is more independent. He doesn’t want to hold hands. He is a big boy.
I wanted to let Ash walk in front of us because the sidewalk was too narrow and as long as he stayed close, I was good with this.
Tyler was not. “Mommy, hold Ashie’s hand! Hold Ashie’s hand!” He was non-functional if I wasn’t holding Ash’s hand. I tried to push him on this. I would hold Ash’s hand for awhile and then let go. Tyler kept freaking out though.
Towards the end of the walk, we saw the ice cream truck. The ice cream truck which was playing a new song and was too loud according to Tyler. But we ran and got ice cream anyway.
Afterwards, I turned the boys down our street to go home. Tyler flipped. He kept pointing back to where we had come from. “That way! Grass! That way! Grass!”
“But Tyler, we have to go home. The ice cream will melt.”
“That way! Grass!”
In my confusion, I let him lead me back to where we were when we first saw the ice cream truck.
Then a very relieved Tyler walked home using the route he normally takes.
He does this in the car as well. He knows how to get to everywhere that we go and if you go a different way, he lets you know quite adamantly that you are going the wrong way.
What goes on inside Tyler’s head that makes even the smallest changes so difficult? What is causing life to be so hard that routines and patterns are his coping mechanism? In my experience, routine is usually used to counter stress.
I can’t see the world through Tyler’s eyes. I can only try to learn it from him. I know most people, including the families of these children, don’t really understand autism.
I only know my four-year-old struggles with things that a four-year-old shouldn’t have to. If I couldn’t respond to changes in my life, I could not function on a daily basis.
My little boy has a long road ahead of him. But he won’t get lost nearly as often as I do. Even if he has to backtrack, he will remember the way home.
From my heart,
(C) Rachel Flinchum 8/7/2013