Rules, Routines, and Reasoning – Another Day in the Life of Autism

Today was a craptastic day.  It started yesterday.  No.  It started at the beginning of the week.  I was sick.  Really sick.  I needed to get myself well because we were taking our semi-annual trip to Hershey Park this weekend.  Debbie knew it.  She had been counting on this trip since her birthday back in March.  I went to the doctor, got my Z-Pack, and went back to work on Wednesday.  Everybody was happy and healthy on Wednesday.  I came home on Thursday to find Joey coughing…severely.  He said he was fine.  He had made it through the day.  It must be allergies.  I felt his head.  It was warm and sure enough he had a fever.  Friday, Joey stayed home and Vince was supposed to take him to the doctor.  Vince was under strict orders from me that he was not to leave the doctor’s office without a prescription in his hands.  I got a call at work.  Joey was much better.  No fever and coughing was minimal.  Let’s go to Hershey Park.  I had cancelled our trip the night before.  I sat Debbie down with her PODD and explained why we were going to reschedule our trip for the following weekend.  She got it and she was okay with it.  Rule #1 of Autism: Come up with a plan and stick with it.  If it must be changed give as much advanced prep as possible. I followed the rule until…I broke it.

I listened to Vince.  I ignored my gut instinct that said Joey really was sick and we need to stick to our already revised plan.  He didn’t take Joey to the doctor’s.  I got Debbie’s PODD out again and explained we were going to go to Hershey Park for one day instead of two and that we would go to the park first and then the hotel.  (Danger, Will Rogers!  DANGER!!!)  This was deviating from our normal routine when we go to Hershey Park but she seemed (key word) to take that in stride.

We got home and I felt Joey’s head.  Guess what?  His temperature went back up.  I gave him more Tylenol and he told me that he felt “fine.” This morning,  I sent him to the MyCare Clinic with Vince and sure enough he had the onset of Bronchitis.  We made the plans to go.  I packed our bag.  But then reality sunk in with Debbie. We were breaking the normal routine of our trip to Hershey Park and this was now unacceptable.  Vince and I got out the PODD and explained it once again.   We backed off.  We gave her processing time.  She was back on board.  Phew…(Danger, Will Rogers!  DANGER!!)

We took our grand old time getting out the door this morning.  But that’s okay.  It’s Saturday.  We deserve that much on a Saturday.  We were dressed.  We were packed.  We were ready to go.  And then Debbie changed her mind.  This was not how we were supposed to do our Hershey Park trip.  And I quote, “Nope.  I don’t think so!” She was crying and perseverating. We had the PODD out.  It wasn’t helping.  I was losing patience and I threw my own tantrum (and not ashamed to admit it!)  And in the background, Joey was coughing.  We finally resolved it and made the move to go.

Vince packed the car.  Debbie was ready to go.  I was ready to go.  Joey was venting his feelings on the iPad.  I read what he wrote.  He was not ready to go to Hershey Park.  I talked to him.  I gave Vince the iPad and let him read Joey’s journal.  We canceled the trip.  He was sick and he was feeling like he was coming in second place. Vince and I were on the same page.  Joey was not going to come in second place, especially when he was sick and not feeling well!  We cancelled the trip.  It was already 2:00 and we hadn’t even eaten yet.  We changed (yet again!) on Debbie.  (Danger, Will Rogers!  DANGER!!!) She wasn’t happy but she seemed (key word) to take it in stride.

We went out.  We had lunch, ran errands, and came home.  Simple, right?  RIGHT???!!!  Nope! I don’t think so! Deb still had the picture of going to Hershey Park in her head and unpacking the suitcase was not the plan.  More tears were shed. More explanations were given. More perseverating over details was happening.  And so, compromises were made. Hugs were given.  More tears were shed.  More hugs were given.  Pats on the back were given.  Soothing words were exchanged.  And, we were okay.  We had made it through the day.





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