Summer isn't really a vacation for most moms, but particularly special needs moms, and especially autism moms! One of the hardest things of parenting our kids on the autism spectrum is that you are always "on duty". There is truly no break during their waking hours, which makes summer that much more exhausting.
Autism presents differently in every person with the diagnosis (with obvious similarities that make a diagnosis possible). Our one child needs almost constant redirection. While her behavior is greatly improved, the ability to play and interact with others appropriately lasts for extremely short periods of time. There doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason why some days are inexplicably harder than another, but the hard days are .....well, hard. We are incredibly thankful for her ESY (extended school year) program at her autism school. The weeks preceding ESY and the weeks after it ends are truly survival mode.
Our other child with autism is at high risk for "elopement". Elopement is the term used to describe a child who wanders or runs off. Obviously this is highly dangerous for a child who doesn't understand safety and lacks verbal ability. It's not truly understood what motivates or drives this behavior, but it's terrifying for parents. Our child is extremely adept at recognizing opportunities (for example, every single time we have guests over we are on HIGH alert, because he waits for distracted adults and a door to sneak out). I feel panic if I can't lay eyes on him immediately. He wears a GPS tracking device, the local police have been made aware of this behavior, we have installed a variety of locks and alarms, but the vigilance must remain. We can never let our guard down.
So don't judge too harshly when I start my back-to-school countdown in a few days! I love my kiddos, but there really aren't any laid back days of summer when you parent two kids on the autism spectrum.
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