Ethan

Waiting – Small Steps Amazing Achievements

We are learning the hard way that because autistic children have no concept of time, past, present or future, they don’t understand the concept of waiting. Add that to the fact that your autistic child may also have developmental delays and be non-verbal, outsiders looking in might see a teenager throwing a spectacular meltdown and think them spoilt. This is not the case!

 
Thankfully there are places that are becoming autism aware and are putting procedures in place to help families cope with these situations. We got this help on our visit to Legoland in September and we were able to ‘jump the queue’ on ten rides of our choice. We did then have to deal with Ethan’s meltdowns as he didn’t understand we had to wait for the other people to load on to the ride but we coped, somehow! 
 
This doesn’t mean that I don’t want Ethan to learn how to wait his turn. Our job as parents if to teach him how to function in our world and follow the rules of society. It’s just we will have to teach him in small baby steps.  

BounceAbility has been a place that we have been able to work on Ethan’s waiting skills. We actually have so many skills to work on at BounceAbility and Ethan’s 15 minute slot really does keep us on our toes. It is so much more than bouncing time for Ethan, he just doesn’t know it yet!

The very first time we took Ethan to BounceAbility and he saw the trampolines all he wanted to do was get on them, but we had to wait for our time. This meant we had to physically hold him back with all our strength and tears and meltdowns commenced. In the end we had to take him back to the car to calm him down and take him back right at his start time.

We learnt our lesson from that first day, I would go into the building and Ethan would wait in the car with Nanny and Grandad. When I got the thumbs up from Ethan’s teacher that he was ready to start I would then get Ethan so he could start his lesson.

As the months have passed I have been getting a little braver and started to take Ethan into the building a few minutes before his start time. This has now built up to five minutes before his lesson begins, I won’t push it any further than that!

With lots of ‘Ethan waiting’ and continuously placing Ethan on the chair to wait, even holding our hands on his legs and on his chest, we can wait the five minutes. It’s hard work and I have to have Nanny’s support because if there is one weak moment in our waiting tactics Ethan is off like a shot. I’m sure we come out of BounceAbility more exhausted than Ethan and we don’t even get a go on the trampolines!

It’s all about those small steps but I’m so glad we are working on Ethan’s waiting skills in some form.

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5 Comments

  • Caroline Elliott

    Gosh that sounds exhausting Jane and no wonder you come out of it more tired than Ethan! Well done on making progress though, as you say, small steps! It must be really difficult sometimes wishing you could explain to strangers and passers by that Ethan isn’t spoilt or naughty, he just doesn’t understand. He’s lucky to have parents willing to adapt to his needs and spend the time and teach him in the way he needs! xx

  • Erica Price

    Sounds like you’re working very hard on the timings thing. I think time is one of the most difficult concepts for all children to get to grips with, never mind with autism in the mix.

  • pixiedusk

    Job well dome to you! I am glad that he is slowly starting to learn how to wait. I dont know why but I am a bit happy (I feel down sincethis morning) after reading your post. Job well done again =) #SSAA

  • emmasouthlondon

    I’m so glad to hear that places like Legoland are becoming more aware –
    small steps that make a big difference, and hopefully help to develop understanding.
    This is such an interesting post – thank you!
    Emma 🙂

  • Happy Homebird

    Ah yes, the waiting! A source of much stress in our life although getting much better. Well done to you all, it is taking those baby steps and breaking down these everyday activities that is so important. The doctors waiting room is always the big test for us, always late of course, so we have a plentiful supply of books in our bag that help, lots of big hugs to calm his system down and singing songs works for us. (most of the time!)

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