Transition: a passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another; CHANGE. (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary)
From Online Asperger’s Syndrome Information and Support (O.A.S.I.S.): Individuals with Asperger’s are easily overwhelmed by minimal change….. MINIMIZE TRANSITIONS.
Guess what we are in the middle of with Aaron?
And we cannot minimize this transition period. Our motto, and Paradigm’s motto, this week is “Hang on, breathe deep, and hope and pray for the best.”
Aaron returned to his day group, Paradigm, yesterday – almost a month to the day after he entered the hospital for a week. After returning home from the hospital, he had doctor appointments…..he had lots of healing to do……lots of strength that needed to return…..and setbacks, like his rash last week that needed to be treated. We also took a trip to Houston over the Fourth of July, spending five fun days with Andrea and on the road. Life was good for Aaron, especially after he started feeling better. He loves nothing more than staying home with his computer and movies and games and television. Throw in an occasional shopping trip, eating out or bringing in take-out, and what’s not to like?
I’ll tell you what’s not to like. Returning to the real world, to a schedule, and to Paradigm is what’s not to like…..for Aaron.
One evening I was in Aaron’s room as he got ready for bed. I had helped with putting Mr. Snake, Mr. Skunk, and Mr. Frog in his bed. Every bit of each stuffed animal must be just perfect, placed exactly where Aaron’s unwritten rules say they should go. I thought I had them perfect, but they were just a tiny bit “off” and so Aaron pulled back the covers I had pulled up, and he rearranged them just the very littlest bit.
I chuckled at this. Then Aaron said, “I want things the way I want them.”
No truer words were ever spoken! This describes Aaron better than any concise statement I could have ever tried to formulate.
Aaron wants things the way he wants them. I guess we all do, really. But for Aaron, as with so many autistic individuals, the desire is carried to the extreme at times. Many times, in many ways. It’s very difficult to dissuade Aaron from wanting things the way he wants them, too. And to accept the fact that life doesn’t always allow him to have things the way he wants them.
Staying home has always been the way Aaron wants his life to work. So being home for all these weeks was just the best case scenario for our Aaron. Going back to Paradigm is the worst thing, in his mind, that could have happened. And it happened. It’s happening now. And we are hanging on for the ride.
Yesterday wasn’t bad. Aaron was a little reluctant about going, but he and I walked into Paradigm with Aaron beaming. He loved seeing Barb and Brandy, and later seeing Bryan. He loved his friends saying, “Hey Aaron! We missed you!” He loved telling them about his trip to Houston. He loved going with Bryan to help lay tile at a Paradigm house, and eating lunch at Wendy’s. When he came home, he told me all about his day. He showed me his receipt from Wendy’s. He pulled out a business card from his pocket that he had gotten at a building supply store with Bryan, and he added it to his other business cards that he has confiscated over the years. He also pulled out of his other pocket some change that he said he found on the floor at Paradigm. He listened to my skeptical response. He pulled out his billfold. Finally his pockets were empty, and he went happily about his evening.
But today…..today wasn’t good. Aaron didn’t want to go this morning. He made that known at home by continually telling me that he wasn’t going today. Finally he got in the van, and he was fairly pleasant on the way to Paradigm, although still saying that he didn’t want to go. I’ve talked to him about a special meal on Friday to celebrate his first return week to Paradigm, but he told me this morning that he didn’t care about a special meal.
It’s best when Aaron is like this to just keep my affect as low as possible. If I react strongly, then he will react even stronger. Trust me….I have learned this. So the less I talk, the better. The less I react, the better. I may tell him I’m sorry, or that I understand, but trying to lecture or to make a point is useless. When Aaron is in his “I want things the way I want them” mood, then it’s best to be as quiet as possible.
I pulled up to Paradigm. Aaron crossed his arms and refused to budge. I calmly urged him to go on in and start his day. After a short time, he opened the door and got out, but his face was a picture of real anger. He slammed the van door, and then walked with sloping shoulders, slowly, up the sidewalk. He looked like the weight of the world was on his young shoulders. Then he stopped, and sat down in the rocks beside the sidewalk. Melinda was just going in, so she stopped and talked to Aaron. I decided to drive away as Melinda and I waved.
I guess that she talked to Aaron awhile, and then Brandy came out to talk to him. She sat in the rocks with him, on his level, and he cried…..a sure sign of great frustration. They went on a drive and Aaron calmed. Bryan came back to Paradigm to pick Aaron up and take him to help him lay tile again, I assume. Aaron enjoys helping Bryan with house jobs. And I’m thankful for the gentle care that the staff at Paradigm gives to Aaron. Their understanding, and the fact that they “get” Aaron, is a great relief to us.
I hope that Aaron’s having a good day. I suspect that he’ll come home happy again, full of talk of his day. I don’t know what tomorrow will hold when it comes time to walk out the door again and face another day.
Aaron’s greatest challenge in life is to learn how to process change…..how to transition from one way to another way. Sometimes he surprises us. In Houston, when we would tell him of our day’s plans, he would automatically say, “No!” No to the beach…..no to the boat ride…..no to shopping, although we totally expected that. But it was easier for Aaron to want to stay in his comfortable world, watching his movies at Andrea’s apartment and playing with her dogs.
Yet when he went to the beach he loved it. He loved the boat ride. He endured the shopping. And of course, he loved eating out! I’ve reminded him of how he said no to things, and then how he really enjoyed those things once he did them. This fact seems to mean nothing to Aaron now. His mind is closed to this idea.
He wants things the way he wants them.
And our job is to be patient, to not give in to his wants, to not lose our cool, and to ask God for lots of wisdom.
If only Aaron wanted things the way I want them!!
Yeah, I laughed at that, too.