By Jennifer Dyer
We had a fun weekend. Rachel enjoyed playing in the new pool we purchased. Sensory-wise, water can be calming for people with autism, which is true for Rachel, as long as I’m not forcing her to bathe…
Sadly, Rachel was not thrilled about going to school this morning. True, she got into the car without too much of a struggle, but she was not getting out. At that moment, I had to assess my primary goal. Getting Rachel to class.
In doing that, I defined my next course of action.
Since she had refused to get dressed at home, which would have meant a battle of epic proportion and not actually getting to school, I had work to do once we pulled into the parking lot.
After my get-dressed trick of having her choose between two alternatives failed, I had to go to a higher level of motivation. I brushed her teeth. She always wants water after that. I put her water bottle outside of the car and told her she could get it. Though she protested, loudly, she did not budge.
Hmm. Stick with the goal… How can I get her to class?
I took blankie out and stuffed it into her backpack. As she prefers to carry blankie in one hand and pull her rolling backpack with the other, I hoped this would get some sort of reaction. And it did. As I yanked the zipper closed, Rachel got out of the car to stop me. I shut the car door and locked it. Sadly, that meant she was standing in the school parking lot in just a shirt…
I managed to get panties and shoes on her, but she wasn’t putting on her dress. In fact, she started to class with blankie and gave me a sneaky, satisfied grin over her shoulder. “I’ve won,” her face said.
As I didn’t want to start a screaming fit in the hall, I handed her dress to her teacher and wished her luck. I did make a comment about not being able to get her dressed when another teacher passed, eyes wide, but that was about it.
Am I a wimp? Maybe. But I met my goal: getting Rachel to class.
If Rachel were like my neuro-typical child, taking her to school in her pajamas would only have to be done once or twice—yes, I really did that.
But Rachel is a different child. Is it her autism? I’m not sure. I only know that I must be wise and purposeful in the battles I choose. Meeting goals sometimes means letting other things go. If my goal had been to get Rachel dressed before she entered the school building I would have stayed outside and called for backup. With Rachel, I have to dissect my purpose down to the barest level. This helps me to accomplish something and helps to keep my frustration level at a minimum, which helps everyone.
May your goals be met today, my friends.