Over the years learning how to take a break and when has been a huge learning curve for both my son Mr. L and the rest of the family. Before he was diagnosed no one knew all those meltdowns happened because breaks from sounds, smells, people, and life were needed.
But over time we have learned both the importance of breaks, when to take them, and how. When my oldest was younger he needed breaks more often and they were a bigger deal to do. Some of those breaks involved taking all the couch cushions, pillows and blankets in the house and letting him pile them up, so he could burrow under them for hours.
Many of his early breaks involved counter pressure brushes and full body squeezes, hiding in dark corners, and rolling around on the floor. But today, most breaks are a lot more simple and quiet. Breaks today might look like the family sitting down to dinner together and Mr. L taking his plate, saying thanks real quick and running upstairs to eat alone. It might be him sitting in the toy room wanting to build and design train tracks for awhile. Or it might be him asking for my phone and sneaking off to lay in my bed by the fan.
This past week we have been visiting family at a cabin and taking breaks have looked like everyone going to the lake and him simply saying no. It also looked like everyone sitting around the campfire eating dinner and him sneaking his plate inside to eat and draw in his grandpa’s note book. By the way, as long as there is bread, cheese and tin foil, Mr. L doesn’t mind camp food because it can still be made into a trustworthy grilled cheese 😉
There is a balance to this though. There always has been, and as he grows the balance shifts. When he was younger, sometimes the day was a wash and stretching him just meant trying again tomorrow. As he grew it meant going home, but going to the library or park again in a few days and not giving up. But now it means, some days letting him sneak off (to a safe space I know about), and other days asking him to bring his plate back and sitting long enough for dinner prayer and then he can scamper off to eat by himself.
At the cabin this week a lot of things were going on. Different people who had not been seen in months were all together, different routines, smells, social rules, etc. So stretching Mr. L just meant offering him to do whatever we were doing, but letting him say no. We offered the hammock, the lake, playground, hot tub, and even to help light the campfire. Some of these things he jumped right up to do, and others he chose to go sit inside the cabin instead with a game of Scrabble or a bin of Lincoln Logs.
It was just as important to invite him to all those things as it was to letting him take his breaks when he needed them. Sometimes he has to work through stressful things, like doing school work when he would rather watch tv. But sometimes, just exposing him to new situations is the growing and stretching part.
I have to say I was very impressed and proud of Mr. L at the cabin and the progress he has made over the years in general. He is a hard worker and has come so far in learning about himself and knowing when his levels of stress are rising or he is becoming aggravated or just elevated and has learned what to do with that uncomfortable feeling. He knows to reach for headphones, to grab a book to distract or ask for a phone to escape with.
I know we still have a ton to learn, both about him and how to interact with the ever changing world around us. But sometimes it’s just nice to stand still for a moment, or even better to swing in a hammock for a minute and enjoy the progress that has been made from all the hard work, and the many times of wiping the tears off, dusting the dirt off and getting back at it… Before the toddler is going to need to be chased around the cabin again.
Have you made progress recently? It seems like the world came to a stop for a minute to catch its breath and now is running faster then it had when the year started! Or have things seemed to Plateau for a minute in your life? Tell us about it in the comments below, and don’t forget to like and share. Thank you! 🌎🦦⛹️♀️🏕🧩