Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Voice

This past few months I've been working hard at taking Finian to the shopping centre by myself... in, without James, my 6ft tall triathlete husband who can handle the physicality of Finian's tantrums with ease.
It makes me feel tremendously secure to know that, in the event of a melt-down, James can hold him and calm him, while I get to stare killer death-rays at anyone who dares to tut-tut at what they no doubt see as a spoiled screaming brat.
Also, staring death-rays does not require me to break a sweat and smooths out my wrinkles, which is always a plus.

But I need to get better at taking Finian out on my own, as naturally James can't be there every time we need a pint of milk.

Going out with Finian by myself are real Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway trips.
I am a wobbly (literally as well as metaphorically), vertically challenged Mrs Punyverse who finds it hard to strong-arm the laundry into the washing machine, never mind subdue a thrashing seven year old who JUST WANTS TO PLAY WITH THE TRAFFIC GODDAMMIT!!!!!

Trips to the shopping centre can be horribly distressing to an autie kid as they can get overpowered by the the constant sensory assaults of lights, sounds, smells and the sense of frantically rushing people.
Over the years he has gradually become desensitized to them, but sometimes he still gets overwhelmed and flips out.

Our Occupational and Speech Therapists advised me to plan short trips and to work to an agenda with a concrete beginning, middle and end.
This aims to give the autistic person a sense of certainty in an unpredictable world.
Because his reading is so good, I write a short list of 3 or 4 places we will visit in each trip, and so far he has felt secure enough with this to cope pretty well.

But going to the shopping centre armed with a scrap of paper instead of a muscle-bound husband feels like bungee jumping off a bridge and halfway down thinking "oops!  I seem to have forgotten the rope."

On a recent quaking visit to the shops, Finian attempted to shoplift a packet of crisps while I paid at the checkout.
I was a bit annoyed as I thought son, if you're gonna shoplift, go for rubies or diamonds...not feckin Taytos  and I made my apologies to the checkout lady, explaining that he has special needs.

And all of a sudden she adopted The Voice.
You know the one, where people talk VERY...SLOWLY...AND...VERY...LOUDLY... to your child, while you smile back through gritted teeth and wonder would anyone mind awfully if you furnished her with a pair of concrete boots and gave her a short shove from a tall pier.

The rest of that shopping trip went as smooth as butter, and I even managed to calm my murderous thoughts with a cappuccino, while the very well behaved Finian had a coke and chips.

It's always a good day when there is coffee and no homicides.


  1. Just found your blog-fantastic. I have been in that position, my son was like that too when he was younger (he is now 11 and saves tantrums for home-not sure whether that is a good thing...)He still shoplifts things and comments to people in the shop things he should (ie-that lady looks grumpy, why is that fat lady buying crisps? etc etc) I have grown a think skin with time and don't give a hoot what anyone thinks( although I did when he was little). I don't explain anything to anyone. He is told to apologise and then we move on. to heck with the rest of the world-it's plenty strange without us! best of luck!

    1. Sounds like a very successful trip :-) Great to have a visual/written plan and that he knows exactly what's happening next. Hopefully the more you do it the easier it will get. Fabulous news...well done :-)

      xx Jazzy

  2. Some people used to adopt THE VOICE with my Mum, when they discovered she had dementia. I was not impressed.

  3. @ Allison, ha-ha! You're dead right that the "normies" are strange enough without us lot
    @ jazzy, yep, the written list seems to tick all his boxes and we're moving in the right direction
    @ Blue Sky, it's so patronizing...did you freeze them with a stare or say something?
    Thanks for your comments gals

  4. A good day indeed!!! I always tell my son the exact store we are going to and tell him at the beginning middle and end what is going on. I never manage to do three stores in one trip. It's way too much for us.

    And that voice, uggghhh!!! I had someone do that to my son once and I did it right back to them. They thought I was nuts but really, I'm OK with that!!!

    1. @ Lizbeth, it does seem essential to pace ourselves. I'd love to have seen you do The Voice back to that person. Am dying laughing here! XXX

  5. Would not have been able to keep quiet about the voice...god I have gone red from the chest up here in the office just thinking about it.