Look past the super cute girl with the bucket on her head to the clearly distressed boy by the ladder. Does he look like he’s having fun? Nope. Not at that moment. He was having fun in the moments before this picture though. What do you think changed in the brief time needed to take the picture? If you have a child with autism, you probably have already guessed the answer.
Logan doesn’t like water in his face at all. While he is getting better in the past few years, he still doesn’t care for his face to get wet. Shooting water in his face is not appreciated at any time. When he does get his face wet, it has to be on his terms not anyone elses. This is not too much to ask in my opinion. There are always things that we don’t like. We don’t want to be forced to do anything that is uncomfortable for us.
In children with autism, like Logan, these things can be minor to us but major to them. Fear overwhelms them to the point that they can’t think about anything else. It is at this time that I need to push him slightly past his comfort zone but not too far. I need to recognize his fear and acknowlede that it’s very real to him regardless of how crazy it seems to me.
Sending him to the point of turning away, clearly distressed, is not a good idea. He needs to be able to trust us. He needs to know that we take his fears seriously. He needs to completely know that he is safe with us. That’s how we get him to step out of his comfort zone to try new things. If he doesn’t trust us then he won’t willingly try new things for us. I can tell you for a fact that he won’t do anything new with the person shooting water at him in the picture above. He is always on his guard to protect himself. It makes for a very difficult situation for everyone in the house.
Have I sent Logan into distress before? Absolutely. I sometimes forget that his fear is very real to him. I sometimes think that his fear is irrational. You aren’t always gonna be perfect. But if you push him to far then he shuts down. It becomes a matter of protection for him. At this point, it’s better to just step away and breathe. Just let it go and work on it again later.