Yesterday was PDA Action day and there was a protest outside the Houses of Parliament but like many others I was unable to go because the needs of my PDAer came first, even when that gets in the way of fighting for his rights ironically, and for him at the moment going to London just wasn’t an option.
Anyway for us it was just another normal day except I was having two pieces of furniture delivered, nothing fancy, just a pine dresser and shelves I had brought from Gumtree to try and contain the ever growing amount of educational resources that were threatening to create a tsunami and engulf our tiny cottage!
My son was aware these things were coming, when you have an autistic child you can’t just have people turn up, but it turned out to be a much bigger job than expected. First I had to move (and find space for elsewhere) our old rickety dining table which belonged to my mum and was our family table, so getting shot of it was not an option. Next I had to clear and dismantle the leaning tower of Ikea (our previous sad and over loaded shelves).
This created chaos. Now above all things there are two things my son doesn’t cope with – the two C’s – Change & Chaos, even a bit of chaos or a little change (such as new furniture). I knew from the start there was a few things I needed to do to help keep him calm.
- Create a safe space away from the situation. Fortunately in this house my son has the attic conversion as his bedroom space which means he has a separate floor from the rest of the house so this part was easy, I just had to keep the route to the bathroom clear and things I needed to put in his room like some books and games I chose to house them temporarily in my room to find space for in his when there was less going on.
- Provide drinks and snacks. By him having his own supplies upstairs he didn’t have to come into the chaos should he feel hungry and thirsty whilst I was working on sorting things out.
- Make sure he had plenty to amuse him. My sons room is second only to NASA with the amount of technology he has in it so he was happy to play on his screens.
- Protect him from noise. My son has noise cancelling headphones which he can use across devises.
- Check in with him from time to time. It would of been easy to get involved with what I was doing and leave him to it but anxieties could be building so each he popped out for the loo or anything else I just made a point of asking him how he was doing and giving him an idea of how much longer things would be.
- Letting him se the different stages. At these little check ins I gave him the option to see the room without the old furniture and then with each new piece as I did it so he had time to process it gradually, however I only invited him to see once things were reasonably clear at each stage.
This bit of extra care seemed to work in terms of no meltdown although in the evening he did say he felt a bit funny (code for anxious). Earlier in the day a parcel had been delivered all the way from America from a lovely lady who is a relative of a friend who we have never met, but had previously provided a few bits for his American project and was so delighted with his response, she kindly took it in herself to send him another box.
My son knew it was coming but we didn’t know what was in it and he doesn’t always cope well with surprises but I took the risk it would be a good distraction and a nice way to end the day. Fortunately it paid off and you could not of seen a more beaming face as he opened the box and pulled out item after item of Americana in the form of classic foods, toys, candy, maps, information, and even a t-shirt with the American flag on it (America is one of his current special interests). It was a lovely way to end what could of been a stressful day thanks to the kindness of a stranger (thank you Kelly if you are reading).
I brought myself some flowers this morning and popped them on my new dresser to reward myself for getting it right yesterday but today is just another day of mindful actions as it is for so many PDA parents every day.