How many times have you said no to invitations to the zoo, movies or dinner because your world is limited by what your autistic child can tolerate? Me, a hundred times. Sorry we can’t go to the movies because Sissy won’t do well in a movie theater. Sorry we can’t go out to dinner because Sissy will only eat Chick-Fil-A chicken nuggets. For a long time and even still, we don’t do a lot of things because Sissy might have a meltdown and it’s just easier to stay home. Then I realized, she can’t stay home forever.
I knew the best way for Sissy to learn was to take her out into the world, slowly. I needed to push her outside her comfort zone. I started taking her to autism friendly events such as AMC’s sensory friendly films and playgroups with other autistic children. Surprisingly, she did very well and enjoyed our new adventures with no meltdowns! I know, crazy right? So, don’t be afraid to try something new with your autistic child.
Here are some tips to help you on your new adventures:
• Bring noise reducing headphones when needed
• Find sensory friendly events in your area
• Go early to avoid crowds, noise, and waiting
• Gently encourage them to try participating
I read a great book recently, “The Loving Push,” by Dr. Temple Grandin and co-author Dr. Debra Moore. This book offers a roadmap to caregivers on how to prepare youth with autism for being adults in today’s world. The key, Grandin says, is to “push them to do things for themselves and to do things that may at first seem scary.” While this may be difficult for caregivers, it is ultimately the best way to find safe and fulfilling avenues of interest for their children. The key is to push just enough while trying to avoid meltdowns. The book includes the stories of eight people on the autism spectrum with chapters on many subjects and how to build on their strengths. It’s a great read and I recommend it to all parents with autistic children.