Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Place of His Own

Levaughn's Comfort Zone
The post for the remaining weeks of April took me a while to assemble. I thought of support groups for families, both online and in the general public. I will attempt to list a few at the end of this post, but there also something else that came to mind, your child's environment.

What I have done here is added a picture of my son's favorite spot. Yes, it's a tent. When my son was younger, I did not understand the need for him to have his own place to go to in order for him to reboot.

There were times where he might have gone into a dark place such as a closet or behind a bed. It wasn't until one Christmas when I purchased a play tent that I understood the importance of this simple toy. At first, it started with me buying a tent for my daughter, who is not on the spectrum. I soon discovered that Levaughn loved playing in the secluded space.

The next Christmas, I bought tents for them both. They enjoyed romping and hiding and going back and forth between the two tiny forts. Then there were times when Levaughn could not regulate his emotions well and he would just go to the tent and hang out. He would reappear some time later fresh and ready to move on. Since then, tents have been a part of my Christmas shopping list as a staple. This year, we bought a real tent. I wanted something that would last for more than a year, if I was lucky. On Christmas day, we assembled his tent and he quickly put his sleeping bag and his light saber inside. He zipped himself inside and that was his own place. He doesn't use it as much now, but when he needs it, be it play or self regulation, it is there for him.

Self regulation is a big step for children with Autism. We as parents, might not understand the signals, especially when the child is non verbal. I can only give you what I noticed:

1.  Crying for no reason
2.  Going off to be alone 
3.  Easily upset with no reason
4.  Tantrums that last longer than usual

The funny thing about these clues is they occur in children with and without Autism. Some of our children just need reboot space. So if you are a parent with a child that is not on the spectrum and you are reading this, don't panic.  All children have some little quirk that makes them who they are. This doesn't mean they are on the spectrum and someone misdiagnosed them. This is just a tool that I found that seems to work for my child.

Autism Support Groups

I live in a small town, therefore support groups are few and possibly non existent. However, thanks to social media there are a number of online groups that offer discussion and sharing:

1,  http://autism.supportgroups.com/

2.  http://www.autism-society.org/

3.  http://www.myautismteam.com/users/sign_in

4.  http://www.autismspeaks.org/about-us/social-networks

5.  https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Autism-Social-Network/160555103982991

Parenting Support Group In Lake City, FL area

1.  http://www.momsclublakecity.webs.com/

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