We are very excited to welcome Audrey Lintner to the Mom’s Choice Matters blogging team. There is lots of cool stuff in Audrey’s bio, but she’s most proud of being “Mama.”
Audrey will continue our tradition of helping families be the best parents they can be, especially when dealing with differently abled kids. Audrey’s son Junior is Autistic.
For her first post in our All @ Aspergers and Autism series, Audrey is sharing her tips on dealing with transitions. Change isn’t always easy, but for kids on the spectrum, transitions are especially difficult, no matter how familiar the pattern. Enjoy Audrey’s article about helping kids on the Spectrum with transitions.
Transitions: Getting There is Half the Battle
It never fails. I’ll be engrossed in a book or a complex piece of knitting, happily absorbed in a little “me” time. Suddenly, the phone will ring, or someone will need me to Do Something Else.
It’s hard to keep the snarling suppressed.
It is even harder when you’re a little boy with Autism.
Junior is a very agreeable sort. He aims to please and is perfectly content to go with the flow for the most part. BUT. Like anybody else, he doesn’t like to be interrupted. To disrupt his playtime with a list of parental demands is to run the risk of receiving a loud, flat “no” for your troubles.
BUT … I have an advantage: I know about Junior’s love of clocks. Junior learned about clocks at a very early age. He would toddle into our room, breathless with excitement, and announce the time. “It’s seven foady-two!” Away he would run, only to return 60 seconds later. “Oh! It’s seven foady-thwee!”
Since we do occasionally have to indulge in transitions to Terrible Activities such as mealtimes, baths, and leaving the house, it helps that we can use clocks to our advantage.
Here are some of the handy hints we’ve learned to help Junior make transitions between activities and places:
1. Give plenty of advance warning. Depending on the dismay-inducing qualities of the Terrible Activity, we offer countdowns of various lengths.
- Since meals are usually heralded by “I’m hungwy,” we can get away with a one-minute warning.
- Departures call for a five-minute warning, with reminders at 60 and 30 seconds.
- Baths are scheduled through committee negotiations and bill passage t24 hours in advance; if sufficient Treat Acquisition Goals are offered and accepted, the bath can take place on an hour’s notice.
2. Be honest. If the time frame cannot be met, don’t set it.
- If you tell Junior that he can play on the computer in five minutes, be prepared to eat his dust in 300 seconds.
- Likewise, if he puts his toys away because you said that it was time to go to the store, don’t put him off for 15 minutes before departure.
3. Be prepared to bargain. My husband is used to hearing “Lemme finish this row” whenever he wants my assistance. Junior has also learned this tactic, and we try to be reasonable.
- Unless the house is burning down around your ears, it’s probably okay if you let him finish lining up his blocks before heading for the car.
4. Offer lots of praise. Every now and then, I’ll call for Junior’s attention, and he’ll promptly leave his activity and present himself for instructions. This turns me into a cheerleader. “Hey, wow! You stopped what you were doing and came over right away! High five!”
- Specific praise lets him know why I’m pleased, and usually results in a repeat performance next time.
5. Accept his needs. Sometimes all the countdowns and bribery in the world won’t convince Junior to stop what he’s doing, and that’s okay. If he’s locked in a sequencing loop (as opposed to destructive or harmful behavior), the world can wait.
Give him time, give him space, and give him unconditional love.
About the Author
Writer, singer, actor, knitter, baker … but mostly Mama.
Audrey Lintner is a writer and aspiring author who is willing to tackle any subject, given enough coffee and research time. Known to her readers as The Procraftinator, Audrey posts words of wisdom to http://www.kofo.com.
For her son Junior, Autism manifested as echolalia, social delay, and an incredible preoccupation with (and gift for) numbers. Audrey regularly contributes to the Little Pickle Press blog. Her most recent post: ABA Therapy: Purposeful Parenting Special Needs Style.
She lives in Kansas with her husband, son, and a shocking amount of yarn.