My Son Is Autistic
I spend so much time talking to adults about taking steps to achieve their version of a healthier self. I do this because I know firsthand what it is like to suffer and struggle with illness. I don't post as often as I would like, or blog as much as I think I should, and I cannot begin to tell you when the last time was that I sent out a newsletter.
Why is this, and does this mean I'm not dedicated to my business or craft?
Of course not. The simple truth is that I am the mother of a beautiful autistic child. I'm also a single parent. Most of my day is structured around making sure that everything in my sons' chaotic world goes OK for the day, and most often, that does not leave time for a whole lot of anything else, even work. If you see a post, that should be a clue that today has gone better than anticipated and I've managed to find some time for myself.
I don't post much about our daily struggles, and I just realized this a little bit ago. What we go through on a daily basis could potentially benefit someone else. I guess that's what got me to thinking about my blog from this perspective. Today, I had planned on working on a coaching project for most of the day, but because we're just starting summer vacation, what I spent the first part of day doing was once again helping my son to come up with ideas on things he could do alone, so that I can work.
You see, my son, Jack, cannot entertain himself at all. What I mean by this is simply, without some type of external stimulation, he cannot function. His go-to of choice is electronics. If I allowed it, he could sit in front of the TV non-stop from the moment he got up until he went to bed, only stopping for food and bodily eliminations - and not always the latter. Encopresis can be a thread for another day. IF he is not engaged in electronics he is like my Siamese twin. This is not an exageration. I go to the bathroom, Jack comes with me. If I go to the basement to check on laundry, Jack is by my side. If I stop to cook a meal, there he is again, watching and talking to me. If I do set him up with an activity to keep himself occupied, it would be a rare occasion for me to have two full minutes before he'll stop me needing something. He requires this constant stimulation. And for me, it makes getting anything done, virtually impossible.
I cannot allow him to spend all day using electronics, so we've worked for YEARS trying to help him to be able to come up with ideas on his own for non-electronic activities. I've bribed him with money, extra privilages, extra electronic time, and just about anything a team of professionals could think of to get him to refer to his pre-created lists of preferred activites with little to no success. We've done rewards. We've done punishments. NOTHING seems to motivate him other than the threat of NO electronics at all. When that threat comes out my kid can move mountains.
Jack claims that I threaten him all the time, and I feel like we live in a very negative world, because it is only the negative consequences that move him.
It's nearing 1PM and I haven't commenced my project of choice for the day. What I did instead was google ideas for children to play alone. I found a few new art projects that could keep Jack busy for a little while. I came across a really interesting idea for him to start his own blog. He was pretty excited about that one. I also came up with some educational apps that he can use on his Kindle. Nothing like getting prepped for 4th grade with new math, life science, reading, history, and vocabulary apps.
Before I could add in new apps, I had to go in and delete the many nuisance apps that Jack has added that are not educational in any way. I told him he could keep 5 game apps that he liked most. Anytime Jack has to make a choice it's a very difficult process for him. We managed, but I know he was frustrated and overwhelmed by the end of the task. Using a coping skill while being angry and pushing buttons too quickly and getting impatient at having to repeat the steps multiple times to eliminate one game didn't seem to come to mind. It took us over an hour to clean up the Kindle, and then I added in the new games, as well as a Smithsonian app.
Once I got that done, showed him how to start his blog, he went outside to get some fresh air, and I started typing this post. THREE FULL MINUTES LATER, he was back in, too excited and "too hot" to play outside and he wants to check out his new apps and see some Smithsonian videos.
What can I say? It's now quiet, and I've actually managed to type out a few paragraphs here. At least he is learning something, albeit with an electronic device in his hands. This doesn't feel like the best form of a compromise in my opinion - but I'm thankful to have a few minutes to work.
Now - onto my project.