I like to think that I understand Ollie and his autism well.
But today has reminded me that actually it’s a continual learning process.
And me thinking I’ve got Ollie Sussed never ends well.
This is how today went … We had a good day. We went to the cinema , something Ollie finds difficult , but he was keen enough to see the movie that he was prepared to go.
We then went in McDonald’s and Ollie had his first Big Mac , something he’s been looking forward to. Since he grew out of happy meals , last week , the Big Mac was to be something of an achievement.
We then popped into waitrose for some bread and squash and we also popped into tiger.
Which on reflection is quite an assault on the senses – for someone with sensory issues. So much stuff everywhere. So many colours and patterns and there’s so much of it all squeezed in , so many people squeezing Their way around , and I let the kids choose a squishy pillow thing each , such a big decision for Ollie , so many colours to choose from as well as hearts and moustaches.
Anyway I wasn’t thinking about that … Ollie seemed to be enjoying himself we were quick and so I was thinking alls well that ends well.
When we got home we were excited to play the card game that we bought in Tiger , we had quite a few turns and it was lively and noisy.
But Ollie was fine.
Then I made him supper.
And that’s when it all fell apart.
Supper means it’s almost bedtime.
Ollie knows that.
He refused to eat and out of the blue a huge meltdown hit.
I was actually quite cross with him.
It seemed like we had all had a nice day and now he was just being difficult about bedtime.
I tweeted about his meltdown , how I thought he was using his autism to manipulate the situation so he didn’t have to go to bed and then a lovely tweeter tweeted me ” poor tired boy ” at first I thought “‘pah! Poor tired boy , he’s been spoilt and doesn’t want to go to bed ”
Then we ( me and my twitter friend ) talked about whether he had had a bit of quiet time to process the day.
He hadn’t. You see usually his days are pretty relaxed , he doesn’t have all the others at home making noise and mess and he doesn’t usually go to shops and busy places.but today he did a lot.
Because he had seemed to be coping today I’d taken my eye off the ball and assumed all was well. I forget that at times he has coping mechanisms that kick in , so everything is still there , just tucked away ready to explode later on.
Of course he needed to process his day , two bus rides , cinema , McDonald’s , new food , new stuff , tiger.
I assumed that he was fine.
When he wasn’t.
I’m not going to beat myself up over it.
I made a mistake , I’ve learnt from it.
It wasn’t his first meltdown and it won’t be his last.
But today reminded me that I need to remember to look at things from Ollies point of view.
Not assume he’s coping just because he looks like he is.
And that parenting a child with autism is a continuos learning curve.
Also it’s taught me the huge importance of some quite time for him at the end of the day , to process.
Sometimes that gets forgotten in amongst all the other stuff that happens at bedtime.
I’m going to introduce a timer for him at the end of the day so that quiet time becomes a regular thing. Half an hour at the end of the day.
I’m also going to stop using that word that makes him so mad – tired – ( another point made by my twitter friend ) as Ollie won’t / can’t EVER admit to being tired and that word makes him really cross , it’s almost like asking him to admit defeat, so on reflection it’s probably best not to use the word atall , and instead just talk about it being time to wind down.
Even when it all goes wrong you can still learn something.