Thursday, 3 May 2012

Getting out and about with your Autistic Child!

For many the idea of Home education can conjure up pictures of summer days on the beach, trips to museums and concerts and out of term time holidays.
In realitity to the parent of an Autistic child this can be far from the truth. For parents of very small or severely autistic children getting out just to go to the shops can be a nightmare. There are issues of safety if your child doesn't appreciate danger, sensory issues of light and noise in public places leading to meltdowns and the problems of protecting younger siblings when your full attention is focused on your Autistic child.In fact life can be very isolated without the stimulation of day to day conversation.
Despite the drawbacks however, one of the benefits of Home education is that your child is in fact sheltered from the barrage of noises and smells which would overstimulate them in a school enviroment and prevent them from learning whilst you are in the position to offer them opportuniries to learn at their 'teachable moments'.
In our case, my son who has Aspergers has until recently been perfectly able to go to museums, parks outings etc but at the age of eleven and with the onset of puberty I have recently found him increasingly reluctant to go out.There always has to be a definate purpose, it has to be something he wants to do and more and more there needs to be a routine. Consequently it has become harder to act spontaneously when the sun is shining , and emergency appointments such as a trip to the dentist or to pick his siblings up from school for example have become a nightmare.
Only yesterday we agreed to have lunch in Morrison's cafe. There was to be no shopping afterwards (which he hates) simply a hot meal and go somewhere fun afterwards  (non specific) BIG MISTAKE . He got to Morrisons quite happily, walked into the cafe, turned round and walked out! Despite wanting to be there he couldn't stand the noises, the lights and the stimuli. We sat in the car and I suggested that I collect some food from Morrisons and have a picnic in the car.He screamed at me that I wasn't listening , he didn't like sandwiches. What I established later was that he was telling me he didn't want a picnic because he had a set idea in his head that he was eating in Morrisons and his brain wasn't flexible enough to look at alternatives when his plan didn't work out.
It took over an hour before he had calmed himself down enough to decide he would go to Macdonalds instead and even then he imposed a rule that he couldn't visit KFC the next day as he normally does because he would have eaten fast food twice in one week!
It can be very difficult to decipher the signals given off by your Autistic child but the advice of older Aspies can be a revelation and support groups on Facebook or the internet can be great when trying to understand your child's actions.
I learned that supermarkets can bombard the senses,overloading you so that you can't hear what people are saying and you go mute with panic. This is what happened to my son. We have ordered a pair of ear defenders to see if that will help him deal with the situation and I have decided to shop when my husband comes home in the evening so that my son can remain at home.I forsee that happening for some time to come however flexibility and adaptation are one of the greatest strengths of home education! I will keep you posted on the ear defenders!

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