I am too tired to be embarrassed. There are things that autism parents do in public that most would view as strange or weird. But to us it is called surviving. When I think back to some of the things that I have done in public I laugh. I can only imagine what people around us were thinking. But I want to share some of the things I have done for Sydney in public to prevent a meltdown or to recover from one.
- We sing songs, jingles or make up songs, not in our whisper voice either. From 1-800 Mr. Roof to the Jeopardy theme song.
- We have a dance party sometimes without music.
- When the bus is late we listen to The Eye of the Tiger and do high knees in the driveway.
- We recite movie clips or act out scenes from a favorite tv show in public.
- We pretend to see Smurfette, Disney Princesses or Austin & Ally in public. That distracts her from a sensory overload or a possible trigger. It gives us enough time to make a peaceful exit.
- We give people a mini lesson on autism that stare at us with a smile on our faces.
- I once told her we had to leave the store because the boogie man was in aisle 7. It worked for me when I was younger. I was scared of the boogie man.
- I answer an awkward question with an awkward answer. For example, when a lady asked me why I didn’t leave Sydney at home. I told her I usually have her locked in the cellar but thought she might like to get out of the house today and get some fresh air.
- We spend money at Dollar Tree only to have the toys break on the ride home in the car. But the thirty minutes was worth it and that was money well spent.
- Autism parents can spot a possible trigger, the dog not on a leash, a child with their favorite toy, balloons, a carnival on the side of the road. You would be surprised at the things that seem like no big deal, that can cause an autism meltdown.
Have I mastered the autism meltdown? Does it still make me feel like a terrible parent after it is over? Do I constantly replay the scene over and over in my head? I am sure I don’t need to answer those questions for you. I still feel like I have learned so much about autism and living with autism. But it never stops. I am constantly trying to network, spread awareness and learn more. I know God has a plan for me in the autism world. I pray that I will be obedient when that opportunity arrives.
Embracing Autism one day at a time.