March 24, 2014

A Typical Day Makes Us Different

I've never raised an NT child, so I can't tell you the differences, but I do know we have some differences, so I thought I would give people an overview of my typical day so you can walk in our shoes a little bit.
Maybe we can compare notes.

Hubby gets up and heads out for work a full hour before we have to be up, so we don't usually talk or even see each other.

I try to get up a bit before the Little Man, but usually am too lazy. Some days, he comes into my bed and we snuggle a bit before getting up for real. Other days, I go to his room and s l o w l y wake him up. If I try to do anything too quickly, it will result in tears and screaming. I plan this time into our morning routine. Being rushed is never a good idea. (Note: we are both really NOT morning people)

Together we go downstairs and I get him his breakfast. He usually gets out his iPad or some trains. iPad days are good days, because it means he is calm and will leave it easily. Train days mean he wants to stay home and I will have a hard time getting him out the door.
Regardless, I give several warnings and repeat the same things every morning, "drink your milk, mama is going to take a shower, then we'll get dressed for school."
On a good day, there is no verbal response to this. On a bad day, he starts making grumpy noises. On a really good day, he tells me he is excited to go to school.

I get out of the shower and start getting him dressed. This also comes with many warnings, "ok, time to get dressed!" in a cheery voice, because he doesn't like changing clothes. Sometimes he fights this process (there's some anxiety I have to calm), but most days this goes smoothly. On the flip side, he can start getting really stimulated and start jumping up and down and flapping, and that makes it really challenging to dress him.
In the winter it's worse, because we have to do snowpants, jacket, boots, scarf, hat, mitts and this adds time to the preparation. Many times the bus has showed up and I'm still on the snowpants stage with him. Luckily, our bus only serves our special needs school and the bus driver totally understands the need to not rush this. I call her on the phone and she waits for us if we're running behind.

Once the bus has taken him, I go in and make myself breakfast and lunch and head straight to work.

At work, I worry that I'll get a call from the school (doesn't every parent? Will he have an accident? Is everything ok?) so I keep my cell with me at all times.

I then use my breaks to make calls - and there are almost always calls to make! Set up appointments, call government services to check on paperwork or applications, talk to social workers, get info for more services...I feel like this part of my parenting job never ends. If it's not calls, it's submitting insurance claims. I think this is something other parents rarely have to think about.

Hubby gets back from work in time for the school bus to drop the Little Man off at home. They make and eat dinner before I get home. By the time I get home in the evening, they are getting ready for bath time. I read and respond to his school communication book, have dinner by myself usually (unless Hubby hasn't eaten yet) and make his lunch for the next day. I run the dishwasher or do laundry while they're in the bath. I check the calendar and see what appointments, phone calls or paperwork is coming up in the next few days.

I then have a bit of time to play with the Little Man before bed. We do the bed time count down - he needs to put away his toys before bed, and this is where we can get a lot of resistance. Actually, there's also resistance to get into the bath, so again, everything comes with warnings and countdowns in order to prevent tears and screaming. On days he is really resistant, we have to take the time to ask and figure out what is causing the resistance (there is always a reason). We have a great technique we learned where you have the child come up with the solution. It's really great because it gives them not only a sense of control, but tools to problem solve independently.

Again, this all takes planning and time, so it's not for the rushed. Basically, we make sure to always allow time to transition tasks and explain the need for each task or transition. The only time I would rush him anywhere is if the house were burning down and I had to get him out. In that case, I would just grab him and run.

We don't rush and we explain every step of the daily schedule, and I believe that is why we have a child who very rarely meltdowns. Sure, he can have a tantrum, but not usually a total meltdown.

Hubby usually does most of the bedtime routine - they read books and I tell him the plan for the next day, example, "tomorrow is Thursday and you have school. I will be here with you, but Dada will be at work. Dada will see you when you get home from school."

After he's in bed, Hubby and I try to get a few spare moments to actually talk to each other, lol! At the moment our big concern is what will do with him over the summer break. His school ends earlier than all the others and camps don't start until the regular schools are finished. Then there's the issue of finding English services that will take a special needs child. This is probably my biggest stress right now. While parents of NTs can pretty much pick any camp or babysitter available, we have to look for more specific services where we know (or hope) he'll have more supervision - and that all comes at a cost also.

And then we go to bed and start all over again!

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