One of the things you generally know about autistic children is that they don’t cope well with changes or transitions.
And yesterday I inadvertently caused a major problem with my son.
I was having a bad day with my breathing and so instead of making the effort of putting in the work of getting the wheelchair in and out the car twice (so four times in total), I decided to go by wheelchair.
You see, when Johnathan first started school, I thought I would go either by car or by wheelchair whenever I either picked him up or took him in. However, I’m not actually sure I chatted about that with Johnathan. I certainly did with Kevin and his parents, but I just don’t remember doing it with Johnathan.When you haveWhenW
With autistic children, you cannot just introduce change.
They will react in the most negative fashion imaginable. My son decided he was going to bounce up and down on my knees as I sat in the wheelchair and scream and flap his hands.
Well, I say decide but it wasn’t actually a choice he made – it was an instinctive reaction to hearing that not only did he have to transition between school and home, he had to do so in a way that he was not expecting or anticipating.
One of my friends managed to show him that he was hurting me. They got him to calm down a bit and get him off my lap. I had been pushing him with all my might to get him off me, but he was fighting back. My word, he is strong! Im fact, I would go so far as to say that he is getting to the stage where he will actually be stronger than me.
When we got home, Kevin told him off for his behaviour at the school. Then, let him know that Mummy, now, would not be able to cook the dinner he wanted. His actions had led to the fact that I was in so much pain I was having to take extra painkillers and put my compression gloves on my hand to help. Unfortunately, when my hands are bad, I tend to drop anything much heavier than a cup. So making dinner was out of the question for me.
Realising My Mistake
In the morning I was chatting online via messenger to a friend. She asked me what I knew about change and autistic people. She pointed out that I had introduced a substantial change without warning. Really, he had just reacted badly to it.
As soon as she said it, I realised that she was correct and that I had behaved in an unfair way to Johnathan.
He wasn’t expecting to walk home. Nobody had prepared him to recognise that if I came in the wheelchair and not the car it was because I had to in order to be able to collect him after school.
So really it wasn’t actually his fault for behaving the way he had. He was reacting to a sudden, unexpected change and unfortunately for me, it was a bad reaction as he was not anticipating walking home when he saw me.
I am so glad that I was able to apologise to Johnathan and that he was able to accept it. He needs to know if a big, sudden change is about to happen and be prepared.
Lesson learned for next time. Make sure he has plenty of warning.
Don’t suddenly introduce something new. This is the start of his school life and he needs the familiarity of knowing what is going to happen.
Do you have a situation like this where you learned a lesson about someone else? It’s not easy to come back from it, but you can always go and apologise. You can recognise where you need to change what you do.