Talking to a brick wall…

Getting my son ready for school again today and had a lapse falling back into bad dad mode… Various changes have been previously made to the morning routine to make life easier, it now goes Breakfast > Gemiini (work) > Dressed > Teeth > iPad > Bus. This works well most days and leaves enough “faffing” time for Jake to get his toys sorted out and him out the door. Today though it didn’t quite go as smoothly but on reflection it was all my fault.

It started to go wrong when I looked at the clock and we were way ahead of schedule so I gave him a bit longer on the iPad. BIG MISTAKE. His go ended and I suddenly noticed he hadn’t got any of his toys out in their positions on the floor / table. This is a very long winded process of touching the toys/reading the books/etc. and placing them all in the exact position he needs them to be in so he’s at ease and will leave the house. Normally this task is done the night before but sometimes when he’s tired and goes to be early it doesn’t happen.

What led next was me asking nicely for him to hurry up, looking at the clock, getting more anxious, my voice getting louder, asking again, and again and finally shouting at him to hurry up as I have visions of the bus turning up and having to leave without him. This would then lead to a massive meltdown, me being late for work and nobody happy. However, as I know from past experience shouting and repeatedly asking for something to be down has absolutely zero affect on him in these situations. He has tunnel vision and is oblivious to whatever is going on in the world around him, or being said, and he is solely focused on the task at hand.

I know this and usually leave the room at this point to stop myself getting frustrated at a situation outside of my control or talking to somebody who can’t hear me. This morning I was unfair on him, it’s not his fault, it’s mine. I should have seen what he would have needed to do and not increased the go on the iPad and hurried the morning along earlier.

Luckily the bus was late and Jake had just enough time to complete the task at hand, 2o minutes later, and get on the bus. I was left feeling guilty for not seeing it from his point of view and for shouting. Six years down the line and I sometimes still forget what it’s like to live in his world…

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Autism and the visual timer

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Most children with Autism, and indeed without, love their iPads and technology. My son is no different and it was becoming increasingly difficult to persuade him to relinquish his iPad and move onto playing with something else. After some research and speaking with professionals we found the Learning Resources Time Tracker and what a difference it has made.

Essentially it’s a traffic light system enabling you to set different times for each zones and a different sound. Our son Jake instantly took to it and loves the fact he knows how long he has and when it will be ending. To our amazement once the rules were explained he handed back to us the iPad when the buzzer rang without prompting and moved onto to something else. Of course we have the odd times where he has a grumble and kicks up a fuss but mainly when he’s tired. We had also tried using sand timers before but found Jake responds better to a countdown with visual/sound aids.

Since getting the timer some of our friends with and without autistic children and purchased one and all had positive results. We mainly use it for the iPad but have found it useful with other things such as limiting time watching telly and one especially good use is the “ten minutes until bedtime” routine we have devised. Again once the buzzer goes Jake take’s my hand ready to walk upstairs to bed. đŸ™‚