Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When "Routine" Goes Away

It's amazing how quickly even an "Autism Mom" gets sucked into routine. I've mentioned in other posts, both here and in my "guest blogger" spots how we "live by the routine". From April 18 until this morning, our routine has been "on hold" for Spring Break.

We are so used to waking up at the same time Monday-Friday. We are used to getting dressed, having breakfast and getting ready for the school bus. But, during spring break, things are different. We have still been waking up at the same time, but there are no buses. So there's no rush in dressing or getting out the door. After breakfast, we're going downstairs to play, or running an errand or two. We're fighting over the computer whenever we're home. We're watching movies. We're having "Pajama Days". Even our diet is different since Passover began on Monday night (well, it's different for ME -- the kids are such picky eaters that we didn't enforce the Passover rules for them).

We've seen in the past that routine defines us. And not just a little bit, but a LOT. When we do one thing, it's always predictably followed by something else. It's how we get through our days. But, during "spring break", our routines are ALSO on holiday. So, what happens next?

We passed the time. We made trips to the grocery store. We went to a playground. We had a couple of playdates. We actually scheduled a playdate (specifically) for Simon. That one was interesting. We went to a new playground (for us at least). We arrived a little early and the kids were having fun playing on the slides and in the mulch. Daniel found/made some friends to play with and he was set. Rachel and Simon just did their own thing.

When Simon's friend from school arrived, his friend tried to play with him. But Simon wasn't interested. He kept running off. When I asked him if he wanted to play with (insert child's name), he said, "No". I wasn't sure if this was really an accurate answer, so I asked him some other questions.

"Do you want to play with Rachel?"
"Do you want to play with Daniel?"
"Do you want to play with (insert child's name)?"

Ugh -- that's not the result I was hoping for, but it was clearly what HE meant. He ended up spending the remainder of the playdate still playing, but avoiding his friend and classmate. I really hope that his mother wasn't taking it personally. And I hope it was an isolated incident. I really do think that we need to repeat this experience, but am concerned that if Simon really doesn't want to play with this child, it will be a bad experience.

Perhaps it was because he hadn't seen this boy for over a week. Or perhaps he just wanted to spend the time playing with his brother and sister, something he'd been doing for that full week. Or perhaps, he just wanted to do an activity that this other boy wasn't interested in. Or, even possibly Simon was just tired (he nearly fell asleep on the drive home and would have fallen asleep if it took us just a couple more minutes to complete the drive). Who knows.

It's interesting in a strange way, watching how Simon interacts with the world around him, especially when I watch him next to his big brother. Daniel sought out other children on the playground to play with. It didn't matter what they were playing, as long as they would allow him to participate. Simon, however, wanted nothing to do with anyone (except Rachel). This is autism. But I have to wonder how much of his isolationism is truly autism and how much is a personal preference of who he likes and dislikes.

This is one of those moments where it would be nice to have that little window into his head to have that peek inside.

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