Thursday, June 3, 2010

how it goes

In our family's effort to be open to whatever the universe offers us (ie. our desire not to be completely uptight), autism gets in the way. It's hard to play things by ear when one family member highly values the routine and the familiar. Not that Martin never tries new things. It's just that his willingness to do so depends on a magic set of circumstances. He's got to be feeling good and secure. He's got to have at least some signs of familiarity around him. The new thing has to make sense to him and appeal to him.

We got a last-minute invitation to eat with some friends last night. They are lovely people and terrific cooks. We accepted the invite, even though we had to leave right after Martin finished school and a therapy appointment. We should have realized he needed some down time. Maybe we could have tried to push dinner back a bit so that Martin could slow down by watching some Muppets for half an hour. But instead, we tried it. And we paid for it.

I won't tell you the whole story. It wasn't even his worst meltdown. But he was fairly unhappy the entire time we were there. He kept asking either to go across the street to a friend's yard he has played in before (the familiar) or to go home (the secure). We left early, apologizing for our exit, and assured by our friends that it was OK.

And even though it was OK for them, it never feels OK for me. I'm always sad that I've put Martin in a bad situation and that I've messed up things for other people. And I'm also sad for myself. My friend had just made tea when Martin's behavior warranted the red card. I really wanted to have tea with my friend.

We're about to leave for a summer sojourn at Martin's grandparents. While their place does not have all the comforts of home, it does have a huge yard and a cousin next door to play with. Here's hoping that this experiment with the new - six weeks in the Shenandoah Valley - will go better than last night did. Maybe I'll get at least one cup of tea.

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