It’s a Family Tradition…

So I bet several of you thought this might be about Hank Williams Jr.‘s song Family Tradition. It’s not but feel free to listen real quick before you continue to read. Great song if you have an old soul music liking like me.

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The need for structure in the daily regimen of a child with Autism is extremely high.  Having structure builds on the child’s strengths which are the desire for routine,
predictability, organization, comfort with repetitive tasks, and their need to finish things. I have learned that children with Autism require as much routine and structure as possible and even more than what you or I might thrive to have.

I am a huge believer in family traditions through the holidays too. This time can be very stressful for families with children with Autism because it can be tricky when dealing with change in their weekly routines.  As I said above, having structure builds on the child’s strengths but having holiday traditions is very important to me too. So how do you do both? There are countless articles you can google about why holiday traditions are important for children with Autism but let me share a little technique Cody’s Grandmother did. We will refer to her as “Ganny”.  Cameron calls her this and can’t wait to know what Cody will call her one day. (smile)

Easter has always held a special place in my heart because one tradition our boys have always had is decorating eggs with their Ganny.  I can remember a lot of Easter’s over the years where Ganny painted eggs with Cameron and now Cody.

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Last week, during Cody’s normal time he would spend at Ganny’s, she built this “change” (aka Easter egg decorating) into his already familiar schedule when she watches him in the afternoons.  So see, if this was Cameron my NT (neurotypical) you could have surprised him anytime and he would be on board and ready for the change. For Cody if you build changes into their your existing family plans the transition is easier and more successful.  This is how we build on family traditions that we can carry out every year and begin to count on those events as safe and fun.

I know this sounds confusing but basically children with Autism might not understand or like surprises or new things at first and you might end of with resentment or a meltdown if you do not build the “change” into something they are familiar with.  The mysterious part of it all though is Cody can be very adaptable and others times you can see him get stressed and scared in new environments.  I can pull up to a store front, baseball field, park or restaurant and Cody is fine but I can pull up to a school or walk through an aquarium and the fear comes across him.  I have always believed in exposing him to new things but I am also smart about doing it mixed with some familiarity.

So back to decorating Easter eggs….When Ganny would decorate with Cameron (my NT), the biggest challenge for her is to make sure Cameron had patience.  He could not  wait until the color had time to set on the eggs and he would get in such a hurry because of excitement and joy while decorating! For Cody, you get the same joyous feeling but it’s a different experience all together.  Let me share what this experience looks like through photos Ganny and Papa captured.  Children with autism may see things different and to watch their brave spirits it is so intriguing to see how they think and view the world different than us.

 

1
What is this and what am I about to do Ganny?
2
Why did you place the egg inside the cup? 
3
Like this Ganny?
4
These look like balls but how cool, they change colors!
5
I wonder what happens when you place them all in one cup? Cool!
6
This is a lot of fun! 
7
Ganny the egg belongs in the cup not in the grass!
8
This was so much fun Ganny! 

 

So you can see by the photos, how successful Ganny and Papa were with Cody’s FIRST Egg decorating!  In my experience with Cody, one of the best ways to avoid a meltdown or panic attack over change is to warn him as much as possible about the upcoming event perhaps visit a place early so he becomes familiar with it. The more you communicate with them about the upcoming changes, the better he will handle it even when he is still non-verbal, he understands! If discussed enough, the new event becomes part of the schedule they count on.

What family traditions do you have?

Published by mamalamaneustupa

Bio My name is Shelley Neustupa. I am a mother of two cool boys and a wife of 22 years to my high school sweetheart. My oldest son attends the University of Oklahoma. Boomer! My youngest is in 2nd grade and was diagnosed with Autism and Mixed Receptive Expressive Disorder at age 2. Since his diagnosis, I promised him I would advocate and educate as hard as he works each day in therapy. I began writing and have been able to touch many parents that may be new to this journey providing them with actual experiences (not candy coated), support and resources through my entries. Writing is my therapy and my hope one day that my nonverbal son will be able to take these diaries and speak about his own journey and how autism relates to his own experiences. Who knows he and his older brother may become National Speaker’s one day? Come along on our journey to better understand our lives through the eyes of a boy with autism, his Skilled Companion dog Jude, his big brother (and best friend) and mom and dad. My raw vulnerability captures the everyday moments of our journey and will bring even more awareness. A week does not go by where we do not learn something new about ourselves and I want to share these chapters with you. My Sons Undeniable Strengths… Extremely smart and figures out things quickly. Has a memory that allows him to remember more things than I could ever hope for. Persuasive by his personality and sheepish looks. Overabundance of stamina and strength. Loves the outdoors. Enjoys life and always has fun with an unforgettable smile. You can find us here: Writer: Autism Through His Eyes Facebook Instagram YouTube Pinterest Canine Companions for Independence News Interview Cody and Skilled Companion Jude - Our Story

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