The Seasons of Autism

One of the greatest benefits of living in Southern Ontario is the ability to experience the four seasons…the weather…not the hotel, which I am sure is amazing, but I have yet to experience…in all their glory.  I don’t think that I could live somewhere where the weather is always the same.  I bore easily.  And it is easier to get through snow-suit season when you can see the shorts at the end of the tunnel, am I right?  Or to endure the feasts of Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Christmas knowing that I have some extra layers to work with to hide my extra layers.  Also, what do people make small-talk about with neighbours and strangers if the weather is always the same?

“How ’bout this weather eh Betty?”

“I can feel that half-degree drop in the temperature in my bones.  We haven’t had a change like that in years.”

“Yup.”

Riveting stuff.

Although perhaps not dramatically different from some of my current conversations.  I try to stick with the weather in an effort to keep myself from way over-sharing, and also in an attempt to keep my foot firmly on the ground instead of inserted into my mouth.

So yes, I like the changing seasons.  Once they have actually made up their minds and changed, that is.

Most kids thrive on routine, structure, and predictability, but for a child with autism, these things are essential.  Needing shorts and t-shirts one day, and a winter jacket and toque (that’s Canadian for hat) the next day is just not cool.  Although the temperatures have not fluctuated quite that much here, it has been a long drawn-out dance between light jackets, winter coats, gloves, sweaters, etc.  Make. Up. Your. Mind. Earth.

Maggie feels heat more than most people, and feels cold less than the rest of us.  When she was a little munchkin I constantly had to sit her up to keep her from just lying with her face in the snow.  She would scream and ask to come in when it was hot.  So to her, I think she really believes that she does not need long sleeves or a jacket when the rest of us do.  It’s a little easier to let that slide in the light-jacket weather of fall, but today it is hovering around 0ºC and snowing lightly.  A T-shirt and capris rolled up to the knees aren’t going to cut it.

Maggie would have sat here in the snow all day if we let her.

It also seems to be a sensory thing with Maggie, which is also very common.  In past years she would spend the entire spring trying to stretch the sleeves of her T-shirts to cover her arms.  Or refusing to wear long-sleeved T-shirts at all in the fall.

This fall has felt particularly challenging for some reason.  When she comes out of her public school, she is very against the idea of wearing her coat.  And sometimes shoes.  I have tried a few approaches, but don’t feel like I am making headway with any of them.  I’ve done the piece of candy positive reinforcement one when she gets her coat on and keeps it on.  I have tried natural consequences of letting her feel cold.  There has been “First coat.  Then park/doughnuts/traveling circus.”  I have wrestled her coat on 8 times in 20 minutes with all of the other parents staring at us like I am a monster.  That day came at the end of an extra-crappy week, so it was followed up by me giving up, throwing the coat and bursting into tears.  No need to worry about my inability to make small talk anymore.  Public tantrums tend to create a rather large clearance zone around the scene, and it turns out that people aren’t that interested in talking about the weather with unhinged mothers.

I know that her IBI instructors are having similar troubles (with her coat, not with becoming unhinged…those problems are all mine).  I also know that it will pass soon.  Once the weather stays consistent, and we can get the coat on her, it will become routine for her.  At home and at IBI we have been using the strip that they made for us, which helps, but wasn’t doing anything today.

Today I am wishing for consistent weather, and hating the four seasons.  I’m still talking about the weather…with 2 sick kids and one with an attitude, the Four Seasons Hotel is sounding like a better idea the more I think about it.


Comments

  1. says

    You don’t want to be friends with people who can’t appreciate a good public tantrum anyway. What fun would they be? And nobody can talk weather like Canadians.

  2. says

    Meh. Anyone who can’t overlook a little tantrum (from you *or* your kids) doesn’t deserve to speak to you anyway. There have been a few occasions on which I’ve thrown a child, kicking and screaming over my shoulder and marched out of the playground singing “If you’re happy and you know it” at the top of my lungs, because I was just sick of the arguing.

    I’m guessing there are some who find me… odd.

    And yes, it would be good for everyone if the stupid weather would sort itself out. I leave the house dressed for the weather, and by the time I’m at the school (across the street!), I’m either freezing or boiling.

    • says

      I love it…I’ll have to try that! Of course Maggie tells me “NO” whenever I sing, at the best of times, so it might be like poking a bear.

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who can’t figure out the temps!

  3. says

    I think a tantrum is a great idea. It lets the other parents feel superior so you are helping them with their self-esteem.

    Found you via love that max

  4. says

    I love Kerri’s comment! I’ve had to drag my son from toy stores, playgrounds and the car kicking and screaming “no!” like I’m setting him on fire or something. My neighbor witnessed one of these scenes, and rather than giving me the “I have kids, too” sympathetic smile she crossed her arms and shook her head at me. I wanted to scream at her how lucky she was to be in a position of being the perfect mother to typical kids to judge me. But I didn’t. Just carried my screaming monster into the house. And felt like a monster the rest of the day.
    Great post by the way. I’ll be back (found you from Love that Max, too).

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