Today I had the opportunity to teach my autistic son the value in what I call growth and strength. There are certain routines that are often in our house because of the autism we get to experience.
Each morning my middle son Gunner wakes up, finds me, and tells me good morning as he does the pee dance waiting for me to tell him to go sit on the potty.
He then runs to the bathroom, waits for me to help him on and then I give him the iPad so that he will stay on and actually poop.
Then I proceed to go back and get ready for the day.
By this time, my oldest has already gotten ready for school and proceeds to do his morning chores of feeding the animals, himself and his brother. This requires him to just pop in a waffle in the toaster or heat up frozen pancakes.
Now, this may seem like an easy task, one that would not normally result into a full on “RED” Melt down but for us, it can and has led to more melt downs then is necessary.
Gunner who is on the spectrum will go into phases of only wanting waffles of a certain flavor for weeks on end. Or only wanting pancakes for weeks on end. Which once we know which trend he is on, we can manage the morning routine well. When it is time to “change” that’s when it can become difficult to know and manage which then will lead to this unnecessary meltdowns.
Today was that day.
Gunner like most autistic kids (or like the ones in our household) tends not to communicate well. It is as if they seem to believe that we can read their minds or that because they think it, it’s been said to the others around them.
There are many moments that I have asked Gunner questions, which he then does not verbal reply too, so I ask again, which then he screams I ALREADY TOLD YOU THAT! Which then I ask, “Well, did you tell me inside your head or out loud?” “INSIDE MY HEAD” He will scream.
I then politely remind him that although I wish I were able to be inside his head, I am unfortunately not.
Today Wyatt, my oldest had the pleasure of seeing firsthand how Gunner lacks in this type of communication.
Wyatt asks Gunner if he wants a waffle and Gunner says yes. Therefore, Wyatt cooked up two waffles and hands one to Gunner who then refuses the food and starts to have what we call a red melt down.
I then get to decipher what caused this melt down so I can decided in that quick moment if I will give in, or teach a new skill.
Today, I choose to teach a new skill.
I believe that we can often define who we can become, based on the excuses we choose to except about ourselves from finding the growth and strength in our faults. What I mean by that is when the going gets hard, how we react typically will lead us down a certain road on our life path. Now, this does not mean that we are limited to that. We actually will have many more moments in our life that the same issue arises and we get to choose again, to react the same way or discover a new path in that road. This is what I mean by growth and strength.
Gunner is autistic. He has a hard time with change, communication, understanding others etc. However, this does not mean that he is limited to those. I believe it just means that he will have much more opportunities to find new paths in his life road.
My job, as his mother is to help provide tools for him to keep in his life belt that he can reflect back on when he gets to come to the fork in the road again.
I could have thrown away that waffle, cooked him pancakes and moved on with our morning. Instead, I choose not to. I choose to teach him, that sometimes in our life we will only have the waffles in front of us to eat. We can either go hungry or expect the change and fill our bellies with food.
He of course, was not happy.
I gave him a moment to reflect on how he will respond. I also threaten to take away his iPad if he choose not to eat the waffle. You could say that was extreme. I say, that it was a consequence.
I left, finished getting ready and then come and checked on him. He was eating the waffle. Cry eating. However, he choose the change.
I did have Wyatt and Gunner apologized to each other because they both had a lack of communication. Wyatt for not clarify and Gunner for not verbally stating what he wanted.
Then I talked with Gunner about how change is necessary. That in moments when we do not want it to come, it will come full force if you are ready for it or not. That at those times. That at this time we need to find the growth and strength within ourselves to be able to handle what the change will provide us.
That we can choose to let this upset effect our whole day or we can choose to let it go, and learn from the strength we gained. That we get to grow, learn new things about ourselves that we did not realize we had.
He asked what growth meant, I said that it was like how when he first started preschool. He didn’t know how to count to 20. That over the year, little by little he learned and discovered new numbers and now his brain was full of numbers that he will always know because he choose growth in knowledge. In addition, he choose strength when he did not give up when it was hard or when he messed up the order, the numbers went into. He was strong to keep practicing and allow new numbers to join in when he wasn’t quite ready for them. And because he did so, he can now count higher than 20 and that is impressive.
So today, I said to him. You get to choose growth in discovering new food, (it was a flavor he never had before) and strength in knowing that you are capable of handling situations when they are hard and scary.
You know get to test that strength and see if you have grown from it by making sure that you do not allow this upset to effect the rest of your day.
How will you choose?
He said, “ I choose to be strong and GROW strong.”
So I ask you, how will you respond to the moments of change throughout your day today?
Will you choose to find the growth and strength in them?
Will you be able to look beyond the waffle of issues and fill your belly with more then what you are use too?
Will you too, choose to be strong and grow beyond your limiting beliefs of who are think you are and become who you know you are?
How will you find your growth and strength today?