Change? What?!!

Autism ChangeI’ve always taken Kirsten out. Yes, it was a struggle when she lived one-breath away from a meltdown. But I figured, how will she learn how to behave in public if I don’t take her there?! Sort-of set myself up. Patterns… the bane of my existence!  

She is an absolute master at identifying patterns and holding me to them.  …therein lays the problem.  Some of her first rules were centered around outings.  And we’ve had some interesting developments recently! 

…before I get into that, let me give you a little background. Over the years, we have had the: 

Same-Same rule: 

This one forced my frazzled, sleep-deprived brain to work overtime.  My pattern-hungry girl remembered all previous outings… where we went… in order…  And she expected me to do the same. 

If our last trip to the bookstore concluded with a stop at the grocery store, shouldn’t it this time too?!  It was expected.  If we followed this pattern a second time, precedence was set.  And now it was not just expected… it was EXPECTED. 

You know what happens when you don’t do the expected.  Exactly.  Very long, very loud meltdowns.  So there you’d find me… exiting the bookstore and wracking my brain about where we went the LAST time.  “Did I stop at the store after the bookstore? Did I? DID I?!!” 

I am happy to report after a couple years Kirsten bored of this one and traded it in for the Two-Stop rule.

Two-Stop rule:

Much easier to deal with.  Just like it sounds, we are required to make two stops.  Simple, right?  Right.  With a few caveats: the distance from the house must be adequate (and if not, driving around the block a few times suffices), freeway use is strongly encouraged (otherwise, negotiate before leaving the house), the two locations require driving in-between (even if from one end of the parking lot to the other), and one must involve a snack. 

And please, please remember to share these rules with others about to take Kirsten to town.  Sorry Grandpa! 

The thing is, after ten years, this rule is no longer enforced!  Without replacing it with a new rule.  What?!  Not sure what to make of this – just what is her plan?!  The girl is messing with my head.   

This leaves us with the one constant, always-enforced, never-to-be altered, original rule: the Daily-Outing.

Daily-Outing rule:

Daily = EVERY day.  This includes sick days (drive-thru’s acceptable), snow days (Kirsten obsessed about clouds for years after staying home due to snow), just-got-off-night-shift days (ZzzzZzzZzzz), and even holidays (you try to find two places open on Christmas!)  Rules are to be enforced – no questions asked!!  After 14 years of this…   

Here is where it gets really interesting:

Today, for the first time EVER we didn’t go out. Seriously? We didn’t go anywhere!!!  Kirsten’s choice

Here’s how it played out… Me: “Listen, Kirsten.  I’m going to give you a choice.  I don’t want you to answer right away.  I want you to think about it.”  K: “Yeah.”   Me: “Okay.  Here’s your choice.  Today we could either… we can’t do both… so we could either go to Mira Mesa (our established plan) OR …we could make cupcakes.  Remember, don’t answer yet.  Think about it.” 

She chose cupcakes!  My gut told me there was a teeny, tiny chance.  But she actually did it

Not that it was easy for her.  Her decision was followed by a 10 minute meltdown.  Isn’t that interesting?  Such an internal struggle!  Plenty of screaming, crying, hitting, and repeating about where we will be going each of the next 5 days.  But she did it! 

Kirsten has a big mountain to climb, but she’s getting there.  Overcoming one obstacle at a time.

Go Kirsten!!

Your turn! What kind of rules do YOU live with?!

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4 Responses

  1. Tara Black says:

    Bless both of you…it is great to see her trying to step out of the box…Megan doesn’t usually have any rules like that but that she wants to go with whomever is leaving…no matter where they are going. And if she can talk you into McDonald’s while you are out…all the better… hehehe..

    • Autism Makes Me Laugh | Tammy says:

      Your Megan sounds like such a sweetie. I’d be taking her for her chicken nuggets and fries. :)

  2. Diane says:

    YEA Kirsten!!!!! And way to go mom! This so made me smile big!

    What kind of rules do we live with you ask??? Where do I begin?!?!? Haaahaaa!