I came to find out a few years ago that one of Michael’s problems is with sequencing, the stress of putting together the steps in a process. For him, he will get overwhelmed sometimes getting dressed in the morning, finding his shirt, pants, socks, especially if his body is feeling particularly off that morning due to the weather, sleep patterns, stomach upset whatever. It has been a challenge for him in learning to recognize when he needs to ask for help to sequence the steps he needs to learn in the process of getting ready. We used to use pictograms to break down particular routines for him when he was little. For example getting ready to brush teeth: 1) picture of stick figure taking out toothbrush, 2) picture of stick figure putting paste on toothbrush 3) stick figure putting brush in mouth and brushing, 4) putting down toothbrush and picking up cup and 5) pouring water from sink in cup and rinsing mouth etc. Michael needed to see these steps and break them down in such a way to understand the process. Now, I’m thinking of starting to use the pictos again. He’s usually alright to do this when he hears the steps verbally, but it depends on his mood. This is one of his challenges with having autism. I’m very proud though that he is learning to ask for help when he is really stuck. He knows what is legitimately hard for him and will approach me to ask for assistance. I have praised him for this, and am glad he is beginning to recognize true challenges from fears.
I have also begun seeing how sometimes I have trouble with sequencing, not just in breaking down steps for Michael, but in recognizing how to break down steps for myself in understanding processes and end results. I have learned a lot by helping Michael to break things down, and as a result, have figured out the best way for me to understand how things work and how I will function best in my work and personal life. I know how to keep an agenda now, how to make a to do list that will be clear for me, and how and when to follow up and ask others for help or assistance. As usual, Michael has been helping me as much as I have been helping him.
Exceptional Moms, do your Exceptional Children have more or less trouble with sequencing than you? How have you helped them fix it? Have you challenged them by also letting them know you are there if the struggle becomes too much? That is the trick. We need to find the right balance as parents to show them the way, but let them move around on their own to find their rhythm at the same time. Until next time.