Saturday, April 25, 2020

Safe, in the Time of COVID-19

Three snap-thoughts on the word "safe" - and a nice resource link.

One: When one's senses are continuously dialed to eleven (auditory and skin sensations in particular for James), it can feel like constant bombardment. Throw in losing a family, home, school/community, and trust in people you are attached to staying with you, and things become treacherous. Oh, and rather suddenly, you're a teen and shot up 6" or more in less than a year? To misquote Douglas Adams: Doubly so to all of the above. Safe becomes haven, sanctuary, release.

Two: Things that make James feel safe now? Not being in the apartments. His current school, Anova. His own room with his own bed. Being surrounded by really tall trees.

I asked him about this recently. This has been his incentive for keeping on-task and completing assignments: going out for a drive at the end of the day. He keeps asking to go to the redwoods. I asked if it was because they were so tall and calm and he said "Yes".

I agree. Being surrounded by tall trees in nature for a visit is very relaxing. The air is stiller. Sound even gets muffled.

Three: James has definitely noticed COVID-19 and the crazy fails going on in our government at the top levels right now. He's home. School is on a laptop. No more respite or ABA visits. Most of us wear masks now outside. He watched YouTube videos. School is helping make James feel safer, as is being in his own home. He asks me questions, several of which come out of his watching videos online.

Resources: It's tough figuring out the best (i.e., reassuring yet accurate) responses. Here is one of the better online articles I have found for helping form a response and support: Mayo Clinic's: How To Talk to Your Kids About COVID-19.

Here are two more: The Verge's: How to Talk with Kids about Screentime and COVID-19 and The Clay Center's: 7 Ways to Support Kids and Teens Through the Coronavirus Pandemic.

If you can, take a nature break, even if you have to stay in a car. Park and roll down the windows. Close your eyes. And breathe. We are lucky that we now can do this in our back yard. Sometimes, even looking at a photo from one of our outings helps:

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Routine, Auteen, and Quarantine

Struggling to Master a New World Order

I am working hard to maintain a schedule and routine during quarantine. It is not easy. James is still growing. He sleeps like a true teen now. Getting him to wake up in time for school is another big challenge for keeping on schedule.

Then there is the added anxiety of COVID-19 and staying at home. James is moving slower than a turtle and has developed a nervous tic of go back / forth, side / side, type a letter / erase it ... it can take half an hour to get out of our small house, down 3 steps and into the waiting car at the bottom.

A good place to start, from Blessing Manifesting
Getting James on a routine means getting me on a routine, something I do not care for, especially when I feel so pressed for time. Still, it makes such a big, positive difference that I keep trying. As soon as I feel I have something in place, a bubble warps up somewhere in our lives.

And so we start again. Thank goodness for James' school. The teachers are so calm, patient, and encouraging. I stayed up last night as a kind of talisman for James as he finally got going on some homework. Five hours to do two assignments that might take me 10 minutes. He made it VERY clear that he wanted to do it.

So I snuggled into my big reading armchair and finished a short book until he was done. Thank goodness Burger King stays open late still. We celebrated with a late night treat (for him) and a drive in search of deer. We didn't see any, but we had a good time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

No "Return To Normal" - And That's Okay

Autism: Day, night, 24/7, pandemic, "normal" life ... a different OS where you can cry a lot, but find your heart.

Photo is from a past walkathon for Autism Speaks. Autism families, sharing the love.

Monday, April 06, 2020

The No-Win Bedtime

When you realize you and you autistic teen are both done and you enforce bedtime.

Then get to listen to the scripting based on YouTube rant videos while you try to sleep.

#nowaytowin #tryagain tomorrow.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

The Importance of Control and Expression

Routines and schedules can be tiring, but they give crucial structure to a day and a feeling that one can have some control in a world gone chaotic.

I have seen the importance of a schedule with James during our new, mandatory learning at home routine. It helps him take better care of himself. When checking his school-issued Chromebook, his face looks a bit relieved, and his mouth curves in his smile.

Here are some great handouts to give structure and control in a messy situation:

Thanks to Natalie Long at LONG Creations, you and your child can create a time capsule about this historic situation. Please visit her Facebook page for more information.

I like the way James can give some order and structure to how he is feelings. An outlet for questions. And understand that there are things he can do to keep himself busy and in control. And hey, a writing exercise!

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Autism Awareness 2020 Style

So, missed posting on April 2, but Autism is in the house (now more than ever), 24/7. Next week I begin week 4 of working remotely, and James' break from school and programming starts 5 weeks.

He hasn't been home with me this much since he was much younger, and I was on a break from work:

We have had some behavioural regressions, but things seem to be falling more into place, especially since his school has worked hard to get him and his classmates into an online schedule for school, which includes a mix of videos, assignments, and video chats.

My, how he loves those video chats!

If you know someone who has a family member on the autism spectrum, please reach out to say hello. We appreciate it more than you can know.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

This Year Is Different

Look what happens, when your special needs child is in the right school and you are not having to fight for inclusion, proper placement, and education. Also, you finally have a place of your own again, fires be damned!

You can have the time and resources to buy your child a bed, so they are no longer sleeping on the floor, because they don't want to fall off their twin mattress that has grown too small over the past, chaotic year.

Silver lining for being evacuated due to a catastrophic fire last month ... I discovered that James could sleep in a bed, and well, if it was large enough. He adored snuggling up in the fold-out queen bed and was able to snooze through bathroom or kitchenette use in our hotel room.

Now he has a queen bed of his own that he helped pick out. I bought the frame on sale from a local store and purchased the mattress online. James also picked out his own bedding.

A big shout out to our friends, who helped put together the frame and un-spring the mattress from its VERY heavy box! You both are awesome.

Sleep well, my big guy!