Thursday, August 20, 2009

Autism Behavior: The Best of Luck

It's nice to see that our autism family support blog has some loyal followers! Same Child, Different Day wouldn't be such a success without all of you, as well as the shy readers who choose to stop by casually, but aren't official followers. I'm happy to have any and all of you stop by, and most of all to provide your wonderful comments.

There are some people however who choose to make comments and ask questions outside of the Same Child, Different Day blog. For instance, a friend saw us in a restaurant the other day and asked how it was that our autistic son was behaving so well.

Before I get to how we answered the question, let me first tell you that Nolan was really behaving well. Our restaurant moments are catch-as-catch-can; many times he can be overwhelmingly impatient for his food to arrive; a typical reaction of those with autism. The chant's of "no, no, no" to every attempt at preoccupation and the drumming of all the flatware simultaneously can be stressing to the most stony nerve.

So the fact that Nolan was giggling softly and drumming only his fork was for us a wonderful time. Couple this with the mom across from us who was having a heck of a time with her two presumably neuro-typical youngsters, and we were practically in Restaurant Heaven.

I think what helped us with Nolan may simply have been that we hadn't waited until the last minute, until he was truly melt-down hungry, to set out to eat. Another thing that has worked immensely for us is a portable DVD player. Now, I'm not a big proponent of TV-babysitting, but in the world of special needs parenting, we don't always want what's right, we sometimes want what's quiet! And when the numbers, letters, shapes and puzzle pieces fail to hold their attention, there are times when an electronic device is just the ticket.

With an autistic child, being prepared before you strike out is your best weapon. And only trial and error (and time) will tell you just what you need for your own preparedness. Sometimes a special blanket will be all you'll need. Other days, a DVD player, coins, a bag of blocks, three puzzles, an old sock, two packages of crackers, a handful of Gummi Bears and Horton hatching an egg won't be enough to ward off the ruckus.

So in a nutshell, luck was the big player in Nolan's well-mannered behavior. And as they say, luck favors those who are best prepared. Now, I know that isn't the flashy, deep, awe-inspiring solution you may have been thinking I would have come up with. It isn't a Dear Abby-esqe answer, even. Maybe I just wasn't prepared for the question.

If you have a comment or suggestion related to your own preparedness with your kiddos, please share with the rest of us. And feel free to offer any sage words of wisdom. I won't mind. And if you'd like to pose a question --- if there's something on your mind related to your kiddo and you'd like an outsider's uneducated opinion --- I'd be glad to take a stab at it.

Just jot me an email, and I'll do my best to post a thought-provoking (or even sarcastically mocking --- I have those, too) answer.



Deanna Schrayer said...

That deserves a big congratulations Jon! I know how tough it can be to go out anywhere, especially a restaurant. Jimmy usually draws or colors while we're waiting on our food, but if there's a lot of racket drawing and anything else is out the door. When nothing else works I usually take him outside to "poke around" until my husband calls to tell me our food has been delivered.

Jon G said...

How funny --- we do the same thing...I'll take Nolan for a walk outside and she'll call my cell when there's some food on the table! Sometimes though he won't go back in 'cause he doesn't understand "supper's ready".

Such is the life with which we've been entrusted, I guess.

CorrieHowe said...

Somewhere along the years, I read about the "survival backpack." For my son, he originally needed crunchy foods to eat (or else he'd lick the McDonald's tables, or J.C. Penny's men's sweater display tables), Bose noise canceling headphones hooked up to his portable CD player with our church's Worship Team's music, Batman action figures and a sippy cup.

I bought a separate backpack from his school backpack. In this backpack, I stocked pretzels, Twizzlers, CD player, headphones, extra batteries, screwdriver, sippy cups, and action figures. I carried this "survival back" when I went to doctor's appointments, shopping, church, restaurants, etc.

Over the years his survival backpack has changed contents. Now he has an MP3 player with our church team's music or "Recorded Books" of the books he should be able to read at his age. We keep snacks and drinks. He also likes a notebook and pencil to jot down his comic book character ideas. He keeps books, action figures, paper, calculators, crayons, pencils, and hand held electronic games, as well as backup batteries and screwdrivers, if necessary.

I find, after nine years, he's built up tolerance, but everyone once in awhile we come across a situation when he still needs his survival backpack. He has a teenage older brother and we've been attending high school sports. If I don't bring the "survival pack" I end up having to cover his ears with my hands while he sits on my lap during the entire football game. It only takes one or two of those games to remember to bring the backpack!

Jon G said...


That's a great suggestion! And like I said, it took some time and only YOU know (now) what works in his survival backpack. Thanks for sharing and stop back often.


Casdok said...

Being prepared becomes second nature. But my son does like to catch me out sometimes!

Jon G said...


Thanks for the comment; I truly appreciate your visit. It's nice to see a visitor from across the world. Please let others know about us.