When Sydney was six balancing autism and epilepsy was challenging. Sydney would need sensory breaks. One day I told her to go to Australia. She gave me a funny look. I guided her to a spot in the living room. I told her that Australia was a safe place and everything is always better in Australia. I set up her weighted blankets, headphones, iPod, bubbles, stress balls and sensory tools that would be calming for her. Australia became her safe zone. She would request it when she got overwhelmed.
Australia worked great until we were in the basement or in the yard on the play structure and she would have a meltdown. All I could think of was how and the hell am I going to get her to Australia. From that day forward we were always packed for Australia.
Here’s a great example. We went to Walgreens and Sydney really focused on the end caps and where things were placed. Two days later we visited another Walgreens and the set up was a little different. Children with autism like routine and consistency. She began to get upset when she couldn’t find the stickers in aisle three. She was very vocal and said she wanted Australia. So we made Australia in the middle of aisle three.
We took deep breaths, I gave her the stress balls etc. When I looked up the manager, bless her heart was making sure I wasn’t trying to kidnap Sydney and I explained the situation. She was very nice. I explained that we couldn’t leave until she was calm and she understood. I asked if she could use caution tape to block off aisle three as a joke so I wouldn’t cry. In an instant she was back with another employee and they closed off aisle three like it was a crime scene.
Sydney eventually calmed down and we talked about the different stores and how to make it easier if it happens again. It was a teachable moment for all of us.
I appreciate her teachers having Australia as an option for her to use. When we visit Uncle Jake’s house Ashley’s room is Australia. She has Australia at my parents home too. So, if we visit your house and you see me looking around. I’m not being nosy. I’m just looking for Australia!