I have to tell you.....being an Autism mom is never dull. Some days I feel like a clown in the circus, juggling an armload of balls. Or, one of those plate spinners....
Finding balance for my son can be a challenge. A change of scenery usually does me a world of good, but it can reduce Eli to a stimmy, sensory over-loaded mess. A real hot mess. He needs routine and order in his life. When change comes, he needs to be prepared. (I often forget this!)
Most children with Autism also struggle with a lack of 'theory of mind' or mind-blindness. They only see things from their own perspective and cannot make the connection between another person's intentions and the effect their own actions have on others. It's confusing to me, so it has to be confusing for my little one!
All of this (and more) contributes to the sweet little hot mess who is my youngest son. He runs and spins, sings, hums, and grunts (vocal stimming), and shakes things in front of his eyes (visual stimming). Thankfully, we've learned several sensory therapy tricks that help restore his calm.
So, this week we had a little change of scenery, that neither of us were prepared for, that ended quite humorously. The little one and I took big sister to the dentist. Unfortunately, we had to wait. We waited (and waited) in a tiny, crowded waiting room. I must say, he did better than I expected. He had his ever-present 'boys'-an action figure for each hand-another sensory type issue. This time it was the hamster characters from the movie, G-Force. (I think they are hamsters. We just call them his rats. lol!)
Eventually, though, he sat the rats down in one of the empty chairs and I knew it was time for redirection. We went for a walk. I picked up the rats, crammed them into my bag, and off we went. We window shopped for about fifteen minutes.
When we returned to the waiting room, it had cleared out and one new family was there. It was a grandfather and his two grandchildren. I know this because the little boy was quite...uhhh...active, if you know what I mean. Active, as in, being a typical boy. The grandfather called him out several times. I took Eli in and sat him down in one of the empty chairs. He sat nicely. The boy was not a distraction. The walk did the trick!
Since he was sitting so nicely, I took the opportunity to approach the desk to make appointments for one of my other children. Eli followed, of course, and I began to try to do two things at once. Knowing that my attention was diverted, he began to explore. Then the stimming began. He began to do quite a bit of vocal stimming, which quickly turned into his frustrated sound.
Think very loud locust mixed with a whiny grunt. (!!)
The receptionist handed me the appointment card, and I turned around to find Eli, on his knees beside the grandfather's chair.....with his entire right arm and hand rooting around underneath the grandfather's behind!
I'm not sure who was more surprised-or mortified. Judging by the grandfather's expression, I might make a guess that he was.
This is where the lack of 'theory of mind' comes into play. This is exactly where that whole 'theory of mind' would come in handy!
Eli remembered leaving his rats in that chair, but failed to remember me picking them up and putting them in my bag, even though he pushed and shoved and zipped it himself. He was confident that Grandpa was sitting on his 'boys'! And was quite determined to dig around until he found them, I might add.....
After a bit of groveling and explaining on my part, I think the grandfather was okay. I think.
Big sister came out shortly after that and we were able to walk away from the grandfather with our heads held high.
I guarantee he had one heck of a story to tell at the dinner table last night!