As we walk through life together, I have to understand what my son sees and hears to ensure that I create a day that is as fulfilling as possible.
I have a firmly held belief, that to focus on the present, to consider those little things that we may forget to experience and take for granted provides the basis of a fulfilled life. The chill of the breeze on your skin, the feel of goosebumps, the warmth of the sun on your face, the smell of the perfume from a rose. Can you recall when you really experienced these things yourself. You will recall that I am constructing a sensory garden at home to help provide a range of subtle senses, but the need to calm the mind and brighten life’s outlook and well-being goes beyond the garden.
We used to (and still do) love the outdoors – as long as we have a picnic 🙂 – though understanding how we access this wonderful world has been brought into stark reality recently. Anxiety and depression have been leading to a decreasing involvement with what we once enjoyed and an almost absolute fear of leaving the home has taken its place. Determined to break this cycle for our son, we do get out and about as regular as these extreme emotions allow. Sometimes we will wheel-walk, other times we will sit and watch, but in whatever we do, I try and draw attention to, the sounds, the sights, the little things that he is able to focus on. When we do this, those fears and reluctance vanish. I find we can’t stop providing this input, as when we do, his mind turns back to the fears that plague him, and with having communication difficulties, it is difficult to find out what fear it is that has taken hold.
We will come through this, and although he has suffered it was never as bad as it is now. We have yet to understand what triggered the change a couple of years ago, but we sense it may be some key life changes that were not able to be handled – close family bereavements etc – and unaware of his Autism, we did not support him in the right way through it. In time we will understand the trigger, and understand how to support better, but for now, we look outdoors to see the wonders we may one day once again fully enjoy together.
The image I have posted with this comment seeks to illustrate what our son sees when we go out currently. The lake has many activities taking place, dogs being walked, children playing, joggers, walkers, windsurfers and sailors, ducks and swans. The Autistic mind disregards all this and he was only focused on the sign. Quite obsessed as it caught his eye, even before we saw it, and we had to park the car right here in front of it – because that is where wheelchair users need to stop. He spoke of the colour and size, and the layout, and compared it to other ‘disabled’ signs that he knows. The world beyond the sign was completely invisible, no matter what we encouraged him to look at!
Maybe you can relate to this story with someone you know, I hope this helps you realise that you are not alone, in some way, we have found that this is reassuringly ‘normal’ for someone with Autism. The important thing is, do not give up trying to support the person you know or care for, to do things, no matter how small, and in time – with patience – you will find they appreciate that little bit more and engage a little more often and when this happens, their fear, anxiety and depression begin to subside and a smile will return to their face. 🙂