Everyone who knows someone with autism recognizes how important routines can be. These patterns are important because they help make life predictable. When social cues can be hard to pick up on, eye contact can be difficult for some to do regularly, and following conversations can be frustrating, it helps to have some predictable daily experiences.
My sister asked me the other day if answering questions causes people with autism anxiety. I thought about this and decided that in general no, the answering of questions doesn’t necessarily cause stress or anxiety. Because my son actually gets excited when he understands and is able to answer our questions. Mr. L takes pride in sharing his knowledge with us. But the pieces of communication that connect to questions can be stressful like, if the person talks too fast, uses vocabulary that takes time to process, or asks questions in a way that doesn’t seem logical… Then my son will either look to me to reword the question, or will just ignore the person like it never happened.
So because of these types of things my husband and I were a little concerned that stopping ABA therapy might actually and eventually be a stressful transition for mr. L. I mean he has been going to some form of ABA for most of his life. Our son is 8 years old and he started Applied Behavioral Analysis right before he turned 3 and when he started he was going 30-40 hours a week.
Just imagine filling a backpack with diapers, wipes, sippy cups, food, and extra clothes, but no toys and handing it over to professionals- because the backpack is too heavy for your diapered tot and not seeing your kid for hours every day knowing they have gone off to work. I know working parents will roll their eyes and say daycare is the same. But it’s actually not. Daycare is full of toys, songs, cuddles, and other kids playing. ABA was not that, it was a padded room because my child would bang his head on walls, floors, doors etc.
ABA was my child fighting to find his voice and learning how to interact with the world around him. It was full of bubbles, chocolate milk, and caring therapists who cheered for him. But it was so much work for both mr. L and for me. So when his therapist decided my kid didn’t need daily therapy anymore I wanted to jump off my chair and do a happy dance!
But because this was such a big part of mr. L’s life and because routines are important my husband and I were worried after a day or 2 off that our child might start to get upset wondering where his usual routine went. But I am happy to write that mr. L hasn’t missed a beat. He is happy when he gets done with school, is happy to come home, enjoys the extra time he has with his family, likes getting out and going places with us.
I will continue to use skills I picked up from ABA therapy to help keep mr. L moving forward, but so far we have been transitioning to more family time well! And I am so happy as his momma to have him around more, because I missed him every time I dropped him off, I missed him.