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Creating Order in an Autistic Child's Environment

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

I have a five-year-old boy with moderate to severe autism. To say that our house has been chaotic (even pure hell at times) is an understatement. His father/my husband is partly nocturnal - stays up until 4:00 or 5:00 and then sleeps until noon. At some point I realized that our house was sinking, that I could not possibly do all that needed to be done. I want to share a few things that I have learned and employed mainly this past year.

 

1) ENERGY is required. I began finding ways to shake the fuzz from my brain and to invigorate my tired 41-year-old body. I began eating healthier and drinking ashwagandha tea (small doses as too much is like taking steroids). I found myself wanting to clean out closets, wipe fan blades, etc. This is good! Less coffee, more ashwagandha tea. On another hand, ashwagandha seems to make me aggressive in ALL ways, so I sometimes drink skullcap or kava tea as "insurance" that I will remain calm when things get "out of hand." These kids are pure and deserve only love, not contagious waves of anger and frustration. "Happy teas" keep me in check.

 

2) A SCHEDULE is required. I literally wrote out a detailed schedule that begins with getting the coffee going as soon as I crack my eyes open. Morning time is MY time. It is my only alone time. I work from home as a publisher. I have computer time until 11:00 a.m. and my boy gets the rest of my day until 11:00 p.m. which is when I switch from Mommy to Wife. This time often includes a glass of wine to unwind and remember that life is good. My hours are many in a day (again, see #1).

 

3) SELF-DISCIPLINE is required. I was always as laid back as a house-cat in a sunny window, as flexible as a willow tree, but I had to establish rules for myself. I want to share this part because it's important: When I wrote out my daily list of "chores," I kept in mind my THREE PRIMARY ROLES as a woman: 1) Mother; 2) Wife; and 3) Lady of the House. I have "chores" that I must do every day. I started small. When I felt it was manageable, I began adding more "chores," claiming responsibility for my environment.

 

EXAMPLES of basic chores:

1) Keep a clean and clear dining table.

2) Keep a clean toilet.

3) Keep trash from overflowing.

4) Make my boy's bed every day.

5) Work on at least one major life skill every day.

6) Keep the front porch clear and swept.

7) "Dress" for my husband each night.

8) Light a candle.

 

These chores are incorporated into my daily schedule. I must say that life is running much more smoothly, and my boy is slowly learning to respect order. He sees me cleaning and he learns that a clean home is a happy home. My husband isn't left out of it. He gets a few hours at night (and occasional wine plus ashwagandha make it wonderful). I must say that life is looking more hopeful.

 

I hope this note inspires mothers who feel like they are on a sinking ship with "special needs" plus all else.

 

--Christina from West Virginia

post #2 of 3

Thank you for sharing! I am an easy-going unscheduled mama but a combination of having a large family and special needs kids has made that a hindrance to my happiness instead of the asset it should be. Its still a work in progress, but having a daily schedule/routine and sticking to it makes everything much more manageable even though it doesn't come naturally to me at all. Staying balanced with time for myself, time with my DH, and time for my kids is so important. Its a challenge but not impossible! It just requires a conscious effort and placing some boundaries for myself and my time. 

post #3 of 3

I'm glad you shared this.

 

As a mum of two kids on the spectrum, I struggle with creating a predictable environment for them. Fortunately they don't require rigid schedules, but they (esp DS) do need plenty of "warning" and to know what to expect. It has been a challenge to get myself into a routine but I find I really like it when I can stick with it, so that is a motivation to keep going. 

 

Energy is important, for sure. I exercise regularly (long walks and running), and I've arranged my life so I get plenty of sleep. A grumpy mama is not a good mama!

 

Staying on top of housework is important too. I used Flylady for that, and with her help got a morning routine going. I don't do the whole program, but every morning I "swish and swipe" the bedroom, get myself dressed "down to my shoes" (helps prevent sore feet at the end of the day, among other things, and do one cycle of laundry. 

 

It's so ironic to me that I find it so hard to stick to routines, and yet I'm so much happier when I have one!

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