From: Happy Aspies
It always happens like this. We are having a great evening. The kids are getting along and actually playing together. Like really getting along. And then one of us – tonight it happened to be Eliot – suggests that we do something out of the ordinary. He suggested that we watch a movie as a family. Of course, it was 7:15 when he came up with the idea, the grass was half cut and needed to be finished and the kids were covered with dirt and needed to be bathed. A sane person would have looked at all that needed to be done and said, eh, we’ll do it another night. But we went for it.
I showered the kids while E finished the lawn and went to get the movie. We were torn between E.T. and The Princess Bride. We opted for the later because it is shorter. We put in the movie, made popcorn and passed around some treats. We had a great time.
The movie ended at 10:30. Two hours past bedtime. W is totally revved and getting his second wind. He is running around repeating “the cliffs of insanity” over and over again, wildly laughing. I thought this was actually a very appropriate line from the movie for him to be repeating at the moment because I knew what was coming. Total chaos and insanity. I managed to get his teeth brushed during the post movie craziness and thought I might get off easy and be able to talk to him quietly as he drifted off to sleep, but upon going into his room he announced that he would not be sleeping tonight until “way later” and that in fact he would be drawing in bed with his new Flair felt tip pens and that I would have nothing to say about it. I know that somewhere in his head he knew that I would not agree with this concept based on pure logic, nevermind his tone of voice.
Twenty minutes later I am reading to sweet little H, who has been patiently waiting for a story while we are trying to diffuse the chaos from his big brother. As I was laying with H and he was falling asleep I started to feel mad at myself for deviating from the routine and allowing this late movie. Everything I read about autism tells me to stick to a strict routine. After all that is what most kids need – autism or not. Kids need routine. Well, he has a routine and even when we don’t deviate he has meltdowns. Big ones sometimes. He was even saying it himself during his rant. “Why did you let me stay up late? I wanted to write with my pens and I watched that stupid movie and it had those battles and so now I am battling with you because you’re stupid. I am suppossed to be going to the park to ride my bike tomorrow and now I will just have to sit under the pavillion and write with my pens. All because of this stupidness!”
It’s easy to assume that what he was angry about was the lack of routine. He said it himself. A year ago I would have been convinced that we just shouldn’t have let him stay up. That his little rant was a plea for the normal bedtime routine. What I couldn’t see then is that he had some new pens and he was excited about using them. He wanted to spend some of his time using them before bedtime. He had them out all throughout the movie and he wasn’t expecting to not use them while he was watching. He became so stuck on the idea of using his pens that he couldn’t put it aside once the movie ended. I thought he forgot about his pens, but I have come to realize that he doesn’t forget. He just puts things on hold for awhile.
I think I am right to have a routine for certain parts of the day. Both of my children benefit from this. I don’t think it’s right to assume that every meltdown could be avoided if I would have just stuck to the routine. And even if I could avoid all meltdowns by sticking to the routine I don’t think it is the wise thing to do. Wouldn’t that be teaching him inflexibilty instead of flexibility? Isn’t that giving in to the challenges that asperger’s presents him with rather than challenging them? Would it be okay for me to not shift my perspective so I can better understand my husband and children just because I am not wired that way?
As much as I want to run from those insane moments and do everything in my power to make sure they never happen again, I know I won’t. And that is a good thing.