Have you ever seen people square dance. They get dressed up in elaborate costumes and twirl around the dance floor as a caller yells out instructions. I realized yesterday, I am my son’s caller. No, I do not yell at him as he goes about his day. But I am the person giving the instructions leading him through the dance that is his life.
As children grow it is important that they learn the skill of following multiple step directions. It is a skill that Autism Boy’s teachers pressed upon us that if he could not master it, he would never succeed. Tough words for any parent to take in. Well for Autism Boy, this is a skill which comes and goes. Exhausted Hubby and I have known for a long time that on good days we can do more than bad days, but yesterday was a eye opener.
Back to multiple step instructions as it relates to square dancing:
A single step instruction is: Put the book on the table.
Two Step instruction: Put the book on the table and come back here.
Three Step Instruction: Put the book on the table, pick up the remote and bring it to the kitchen.
You get the gist. Well on our bad days we can go from mastering multiple step instructions to struggling with single step instructions.
If you see your little superhero becoming easily frustrated examine what you are saying. Are the words starting to sound like that of a square dancing caller. Although as a champion dancer you may get it, your amateur child may not. The words become a jumble, they may only hear the first part and then focus on that until it is complete, never hearing the second set of instructions. Choose your words carefully. Autism Boy has an invisible counter and can only handle a certain number of words per day. This number changes every day and when the threshold is met, chaos ensues.
How do you solve this. Practice, patience and the occasional glass of caffeine when it will just not going to happen that day. Do not be discouraged. On days when I see I am repeating myself over and over like a vintage record player I save myself a few breaths and go to a lower set of instructions.
Today we one step and we are doing it with grace, dignity and a really cool cape cause that’s our style and were sticking to it. Do you one step?