Remembering The Way Home

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



One thought on “Remembering The Way Home

  1. Good for you, Rachel recognizing that changes in routine upset Tyler when he is so young! You have already made your road a little easier. I wished I had recognized that in Jana when she was younger, it would have saved us a lot of confusion and meltdowns and not understanding why she was so upset. And breakdowns that looked like temper tantrums. Vacations and holidays and birthdays are always hard for her. Which makes it harder for me. It does seem to get a tad bit easier as she has gotten older.

    We just went to St. Louis on vacation. We went to what I thought were some fantastic resturants for lunch. (I should have packed her a peanut butter sandwich), Why didn’t I remember thiis? She didn’t like any of them and the vacation was really hard for her. All she could talk about was coming home. Although she did have more good moments than when she was younger. We get home and she tells her grandparents what a great time she had on vacation! ,The life we live with Autism! So, I try to make family life as normal as possible and not let her comments or the fact that she can’t find anything on the menu she likes bother me.

    But you are 100 steps of where I was with Jana at the age Tyler is. And you are responding to him much better than I did to Jana. Good for you!

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