Autism from a mama who has been there. I am going to try to post every day this month. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments.
Scouts and other social activities.
I know that the Scouts filed for bankruptcy, so fill in the blank with any group activity your child is interested in, or you are thinking about for your child.
Scouts, disaster. Due, in part, to his panic with any kind of list. He did like to participate in some events as long as he wasn’t “working toward” anything. We really had to play it by ear. If he chose to leave (we lived within walking distance), he was required to inform the leader, who would call me to let me know he was on his way home. Trust me, this is a much better alternative to a meltdown.
Camp-outs, fun but dangerous. He was, still is, great at starting fires! My husband had to attend any camp-outs, and when his brother got older, he could take my husband’s place. Make plans with your husband, scout leader, or older sibling to make sure that your autistic child is never left alone. Poor decision-making skills can have terrible consequences in this kind of setting. Leaders need to be fully cognizant of any medications and when they need to be taken. (One scout leader decided to extend a camp-out by a day. My son only had enough medication for the pre-planned days. This kind of spontaneity can be dangerous when you are dealing with autistic children!)
My son had an incredible youth leader who convinced him he could become an Eagle Scout. The timing could have been better, my son was almost 17 when this happened. He came home and told me he wanted to get his Eagle. So we sat down and figured out a plan. He got his Eagle in just over one year. But that’s because he was ready to do the work. Honestly, he hadn’t been prepared before. Have open communication with your child about their desires and try to keep their expectations and goals realistic.
Sports, dude! Team sports were a no go. Nope. So we tried tennis, which should have worked, but we didn’t know Mr. Henry. (He was awful!) Sometimes something should work but doesn’t; because we can’t control all the variables. I personally don’t know many autistic kids that are interested in participating in sports. Your child might be different.
Choir, winner! Well, until the first concert. It’s one thing to sit in a chair and sing; it’s another to stand shoulder to shoulder on risers. My autistic son almost fell off in his attempt to not touch the person next to him. He continued taking the class but attended instead participated in concerts.
Be 100% open with coaches, teachers, leaders, and anyone who is in an authority position over your autistic child. They need to know what you know about your child. And if you don’t feel that you’re being taken seriously, pull your child out of that event. Your child is more important than an adult’s hurt feelings. You are your child’s most forceful advocate. And sometimes their only advocate. Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, walk away.
Knowing your child’s abilities and limits will help you walk that fine line between encouragement and allowing them to give up just because it’s a little bit hard.
Celebrate the small stuff (and the big stuff). Be flexible. Laugh.