Saturday, April 24, 2010

Facing the Boogie Man: Being Flexible Part 2

As I mentioned in the last post, G has been very agitated and angry because he realized he had not been keeping up on the new Clone Wars episodes. This all came to a head again last weekend because the Clone Wars finale was scheduled. As most of us know people with autism rely heavily on routines. I believe some routines are good especially in school and work. Routines can help people with autism be more independent and less anxious.

However, an over reliance on routines can make a person become inflexible and agitated when their routine is not followed. This was our case with the Clone Wars.

I try to consistently break up G's routines and give him little challenges. The hard part for me is that many times he develops routines that I am not aware of. When these routines are disrupted he gets very upset. He feels like something bad will happen to him if they are broken. Well sometimes you've gotta face the boogie man.

In our case, this meant watching the shows out of order. So I sent the Hubbo and GA out and sat G down to watch an episode out of order. At first G didn't want to. So I bribed him with an iTunes card and Oreos. He cried as we started the first episode and was very tense. As he started watching I saw his muscles relax and he became interested in the show. We then continued to watch episodes, as many as we could, until he was caught up. He was worried he would not understand what was happening, but he was able to follow just fine.

After the shows were over I let G go and relax in his room. The next day I talked with him about what happened. He was relaxed so I could explain to him that it was nobody's fault that he missed an episode. We talked about feeling like hitting someone and making the choice not to hit. I let G now how proud I was that he didn't hit anyone and that he made a wise choice. I also reminded him that this is a very important choice because he is big and can hurt someone badly without meaning to.

Its very important now that I help G understand his actions, that I debrief him. I have found its best to wait a day before we talk. When he is agitated it is harder for him to focus on what I am saying to him. I do this because:
I'm trying to help him celebrate his good choices so he feels good about himself.

I want to remind him of important life lessons and possible consequences of bad choices.

I want to take advantage of every teaching opportunity possible, because at this point he is open to it.

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