When Ryder was younger we really started to notice he had a hard time with changes and transitioning. After his diagnosis we then understood why. Shortly after he was diagnosed, I took an ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) course to better understand autism. They taught us that the more you tell them the plan, the better off they are. When they know what to expect, they can prepare themselves sensory wise. The only trouble is when something changes in the plans… keep talking!!
So we started communicating as much as we could with him. We would tell him our daily plan. Wherever we had to go, and whatever we had to do, he would know the plan. First the grocery store, then the dry cleaners, then to a restaurants and so on. We did it all day. And the more we did it, the better he handled going into all these public places.
We have figured out that we need prep in so many aspects. Since we have a very unpredictable lifestyle with hockey, it was a bit hard at times. But, I credit this crazy life to helping him understand that sometimes there’s nothing we can do about new situations, we just have to handle it as best we can. Ryder has been a champ about moves, last minute trips, new baby sitters.. not much has been that consistent in his life, and I have to thank hockey for that one because I truly think it has helped him in accepting that we can’t always control things ( its helped me there too :) ) .
We still do the prep though. He’s very big into calendars. He’s actually a genius with them. The other day he asked me when we could have a lemonade stand. I said how about June 10th? He responded with Saturday, June 10th? I quickly looked at my phone calendar… sure enough, June 10th falls on a Saturday. So you can imagine this is a big part of his life. He loves to flip the calendar and help me put important dates on it. It is something he needs for himself and something we are happy to help him with! Including him in these kinds of things is also a game changer!
Although he has gotten so much better about his rigidities, I still find myself telling him the day’s plan if we have a lot going on. Walking him through the plan can really make a difference.
Each month Ryder’s class at school changes seating assignments so that they work in different groups and get to know each other better. Last month for some reason, Ryder had a hard time with his new desk friends. So this month his teacher changed the approach (she’s amazing). She gave him a desk layout to fill in, and he asked if he could sit with certain peers. He filled it out and he has been really looking forward to it. I’m so proud of him for making a change when he knew something was hard for him and helping to come to a resolution. So preparation is still very important and we always look to work on this when we see he is anxious!
I love learning from this little guy- He’s the coolest!!