In Susan Senator’s book, Making Peace with Autism , I discovered a good example of adapting to what works for your child. Susan shared how her son Nat had experienced a meltdown at a family holiday gathering – he refused to go into a family member’s house. Thanksgiving was coming. She and her husband dreaded the likelihood of another meltdown ruining the holiday for the whole family.
The label Autism and the massive education that parents must experience once they get the “label” had not yet happened for Nat and his parents. However, Susan knew her son from observing his responses. Nat responded to books especially ones that told him what to expect out of an event. She wished there had been a book on Thanksgiving so Nat would know what to expect. She began making “crisis storybooks” which helped Nat to get through a family gathering without the insecurity and over stimulation that can ruin such gatherings for a family.
As parents of children with Autism and other complex special needs we often know what works by instinct and observation. In this example, Susan was using some of the basic purposes Carol Gray gives for her Social Story Program.
In Parenting Your Complex Child (April 2006) I shared that we were doing “floor time” as Dr. Stanley Greenspan recommends long before we heard the term. We were using the little program “Sweet Pickles”, advertised every time you turned on the car radio or television at the time of Billy Ray’s adoption. Sweet Pickles were activity cards to do with your preschooler. Some were about counting. Others were sorting by color, shape, and size. A new set of cards would come approximately every two weeks. We would work the new cards together a few times on the table or sitting on the floor together. After being sure, he understood the concept we applied it to everyday tasks. For example, we counted silverware as we loaded the dishwasher together. We talked about sizes and shapes doing laundry or grocery shopping, etc., etc., etc.
Susan shared how reading Temple Grandin’s books gave her confidence to trust her own ability to help her son. It is my hope that reading what other parents’ books will encourage you to trust your own instincts.
Saturday’s mail brought book jackets my editor sent me for my book. I was thrilled to see that they pulled a couple of lines from Kate Crowe’s Foreword to Parenting Your Complex Child for the back cover. “This book is so much more than a list of suggested responses to particular behaviors. It’s a detailed guide to understanding your child and building a place in the world for him or her from the ground up.”
Your child will respond differently to things than Billy Ray and Nat. It is my hope that by reading how Susan and I (or multiple other parents who write their experience in books and blogs) adapted life to our children’s needs you will feel empowered to adapt what works for your own child.
Peggy Lou Morgan