Birthday Parties

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Our son has looked forward to his birthday party in September each year with enthusiasm. We, as his parents, less so as our son expects to magically have 15 kids appear and do what he wants them to do. This is OK in grade three, but by the time you have an autistic teen the numbers drop off. I have found a few coping strategies over the years for birthdays that may help other parents  with their autistic angels too.

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Measurement with Teens

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My husband and I never know if it is the teenager or the autistic that speaks some days in our family. Yesterday we were travelling in the car, as we often do to get anywhere, and our son explained to us that there had been a “crap tonne” of cards at the Trading Card shop. My husband and I looked at each other and decided to play along. We asked where this measure fits in with “Mega Tonne” and “Kilo Tonne” in the measurement system.

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The September Honeymoon Period

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School has finished its first week in September for many and our family is back into the routine. Our son has started his second year of high school and is settling into courses. He has the same lunch as his best friend, so all is well in the world for the card club and unstructured time. My husband and I call this the “Honeymoon Period” with our autistic son each school year and I am hoping it will last more than one week.

The Routine


It takes a week or two to figure out the new dance each morning for the school year.  We had a bussing change this year, so there is a bit more time in the morning.  After two mornings of getting up at 7 am and having to put in time before the bus arrived, we decided to wake our son half an hour later.  This allowed our teenager to sleep in more.  He is happier getting up later to start his day.  Breakfast can still be an effort as our son has some stomach problems.  As long as he can take his morning meds before getting off to school on the bus, he knows he is set for the day.  He also gets home sooner now with his new bus.  This is a huge advantage for our autistic son as there is less time for him to get into trouble on the bus.  Often he miss reads a situation with peers and this can lead to behavioural problems.

Lunch Time


Lunch time and other unstructured times have been an effort for our autistic son during the schooling years.  We find he has problems filling unstructured time.  In elementary school it was always the playground that provided the most trouble for our son.  He didn’t understand turn taking at that age nor social interactions with peers. Last year he started a card club for Yu-Gi-Oh that other students could also attend at noontime in the library.  This has been a success and as his Educational Assistants say, “A little Big Bang” in the library each day for trading card fans.

The Honeymoon


The new period of school beginning in September until about Thanksgiving (the Canadian one!) is our honeymoon period each year.  Our autistic son gets to learn the routine and interact with his newly assigned Educational Assistants.  He needs to find out where his classrooms are and which friends are on which lunch for his card club playing.  We settle into routine again.  As soon as our son becomes comfortable with the daily routine is usually when the bumps start to happen.  He decides to change things or refuses to do what is expected of him each day.  If I can eat turkey in October and have not received a phone call from the school yet, I call it a good start to the school year.

Of course, that rarely happens with autism.  Usually we go with the flow and the figurative punches that land our way. The first week has put us off to a good start.  We have a teenager that is interested in his courses, has his bussing figured out, and has started his card club meetings Monday to Friday in the Library at noontime.  That is the whole reason to attend public education when you have autism after all.

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Starting School

school bus

September is upon us and school starts next week. Most kids are dreading the return to school, but not my autistic son! No, with the return of school is the return of routine. He is excited to have his social group, school club, and educational assistants back in his daily sphere.

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Speaking Your Mind

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Often our son, who has autism, speaks his thoughts out loud. This is often in the middle of other people’s conversations. These phrases and partial exclamations usually are connected with the latest video world domination exercise or universe take-over. At home, this is not a huge issue as once we clarify that it is not us our son is having the conversation with, we can go on with our boring lives. However, in public this becomes an issue for an autistic child and their parent. Learning and remembering to say the words in your mind becomes important as we grow up.

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Clear Choices

Be Clear

With autism nothing is ever very clear. That is why it is important to have a plan and to follow a routine. A friend and I were discussing this just the other day after both our autistic children hadn’t had an average day in our autistic worlds. The benefit in being clear with directions to our children is important in an autistic family.

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Cousins

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We had the wonderful experience to visit with a new cousin over the weekend. Our niece was home with her family and had their new baby with them. Our autistic son is the youngest in our house, so he doesn’t have much experience with younger children. Within minutes of being introduced to each other, they were chasing each other around the couch in the living room. It was nice to watch our son play with his younger cousin and to watch out for the little one too.

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The Summer Job – Part 2

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So we are into July and the summer lawn mowing has taken off in full demand. Except it is not just the lawn mowing that needs to be done, it is also the trimming that is part of the job. What do you do with a teenager when they tell you that they don’t like trimming grass? When your teenager is autistic on top of the hormones, life gets complicated.

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Report Cards

Keep it up

Report Cards came in last week. With school finished, it was the last thing to pick up on the last day of school.  School is always a challenge in our household with our autistic son, but he pulled through this semester with marks in the 80’s and we are very proud of him. We know the challenges he has with schooling, but want to impress upon him the value of completing his high school education.

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The Summer Job

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We have organized a summer job for our autistic son this year. It is a lawn mowing job in our local community. Our older son had the job previously and we have kind of inherited it for the next child. The lawns need to been mowed at least once a week and there is trimming to do. Our autistic son likes the employment, just not the work.

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