Summer ‘Holidays’

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Welcome to another #Weekendcoffeeshare post which is hosted by Diana on her blog Part Time MonsterFollow the link to read other coffee share posts and find out how to join in yourself. 

 

If we were having coffee today I would have trouble deciding whether we should sit inside or outside, the weather is neither here nor there right now which also reflects my mood at the moment. As we sat chatting I would have to tell you that I can’t believe that the school summer holiday is now nearing an end and this is the first coffee share (the first post of any sort) that I have managed to get written this summer!

It’s the same every year. As the days get longer and warmer and the summer holidays are on the horizon I get this vision in my head of sunshine fueled days with plenty of time and freedom for reading and writing and relaxing in general. You would think I would have learnt by now that that’s never quite how the holidays pan out, I mean for starters the summer weather in my part of the world nearly always dissapoints! And then there’s the children……

This summer I have been reflecting on the whole notion of having a summer ‘holiday’ when you have an autistic child. I don’t want to over dramatise, there are worse things in life for sure, but I did find myself thinking the thought that when you have an autistic child there is really no such thing as a ‘holiday’ or time off. It’s not as if you can take a trip somewhere and leave autism behind for the week; it always comes with you.

Also, due to the nature of the condition, taking trips and travelling with an autistic child, rather than being a fun adventure, can often be stressful and hard work. New places and experiences mean uncertainty. Sometimes my son is absolutely fine and really enjoys himself but other times he finds it all too much and is very unsettled, uncomfortable or has meltdowns. For me as a parent I find myself in an almost constant state of alert trying to be vigilant for situations that may be too much for my son, with the result being that even if everything turned out just fine, I find myself exhausted from anxiety related stress. The stress mostly comes from the fact that it’s hard to know what might or might not be a trigger for my son and so I’m constantly having to be on the look out for potential triggers and make guesses.

Lack of normal routine is also a problem during holiday periods. As a family we tend to drift away from our normal bed and waking times during the holidays. Whilst my other two children can quickly shift back to their regular sleeping times once school starts again, my autistic son can’t. The lack of routine when school is out plays havoc with his sleeping patterns. This leaves me with the options of (a) giving myself a bit of time off from managing his sleep routine and letting him be awake/asleep at random times and then having to put in the hard work as the new school term approaches to shift his sleeping back to a routine OR (b) just sustaining my normal level of hard work in keeping him on a steady sleep pattern throughout the holidays, thus not getting a break or rest myself.

This year we didn’t make any summer travel plans as such. We did however spend some time visiting family (since we are an expat family most of our travels involve going back ‘home’). Whilst it’s nice to be back home and spend time with family, it can also be another source of stress. Trying to manage my son’s behaviour whilst staying in other people’s homes and feeling that your parenting is under the spotlight (even if in reality it’s not, that feeling lingers over me) is again a tiring situation. Our normal routines and coping strategies are sometimes hard to implement in someone else’s home and environment.

That said, I recognise that much of my stress, anxiety and tiredness is self produced. I worry a lot about potential situations that may arise, about my son being unnecessarily distressed if we misjudge a situation and about the judgement of others if a situation were to arise. I try to think ahead and spot potential triggers for my son in order to avoid them which is an energy draining way to live.

This summer we did have a few family days out that were not the best with my son, the photos from one trip in particular in which he is scowling in every single picture taken tell the tale! But there were the good days too, most notably the day we spent at Dover Castle when they had a special Roman Weekend event. It was a planned trip arranged especially for my son and, as we had hoped, he really enjoyed it and the day was a success despite the awful weather. All day long I watched as my son interacted with the Roman  experts; I stood back watching him ask questions and then supply the answers himself, I watched him share knowledge with the experts rather than just take knowledge from them and I watched as the experts looked in turns surprised and impressed at his knowledge. I smiled to myself at this familiar situation, this ‘who is teaching who?’ dynamic that I have witnessed so often. It is at these moments that my son, with all of his infinite brilliance, shines so brightly.

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4 thoughts on “Summer ‘Holidays’

  1. Summer holidays are what they are, they go so fast regardless of what we do or don’t do with them so I think we should just roll with it. If this is your first summer post, so be it, it was a good one! Thanks for sharing. I love reading posts about parenting, and your concluding paragraph left me smiling. I can’t wait to read more!

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  2. Thanks for sharing your inner world with us and it’s complexities and joys. This is a scenario we live with as well. I have a chronic auto-immune disease which attacks my muscles. It flares and goes it remission and at best I have 60% lung capacity. This means there are things I can do with the rest of the family and times I have to bail out. My kids do Scouts which enables them to do the physical stuff without me. Sometimes, I can get upset about not being able to participate but there’s much I can do and becuase my situation goes up and down, it’s a matter of capitalising on the good times and then gritting our teeth and praying when I’m hanging in the balance. We don’t have a lot of inbetween but I have a top notch medical team and after 10 years, we’ve got a good handle on things. I’ve been in remission for 2.5 years and as much as my mobility isn’t 100%, I started an adult ballet class 2 weeks ago.
    I thought scouts might be good for your family as there are quite a few kids on the spectrum involved and leaders can be quite adept at dealing with the complications. It would also enable your neuro-typical kids to venture out and do bushwalking, camping and spread their wings while still doing things as a family. Perhaps, your kids are too young for this, but scouts has been a Godsend to our family giving our kids a break away from my health issues and has given me a chance to rest.
    Just a thought.
    Bless you!
    xx Rowena

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  3. Thank you for sharing this. We have always had the same problems. My son is now 17 and I am 49, and both are Aspergers Syndrome…..but noise canceling headphones and an ipad are a godsend!! Instand seclusion if needed. But back to school we go…..and no less stress there with all the meetings and worry. We all need to stick together.

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