I’m guessing most of us would be bored if we did the same thing so predictably on any given day of the week, at least for a long period of time. The reality for most of us, however, is that although we grasp for some predictability in our lives, typically “life happens,” throwing off our “best laid plans…”which “often go awry.”
Even as eleven-year-olds, my classmates and I were acutely aware of the unpredictability of life. Our city had suffered a significant tornado just a few days previously, and several of our classmates were unable to accompany us because they were trapped in their neighborhoods by downed trees, power lines, and other debris.
This past weekend, my family and I planned a short stint on our boat, looking forward to exploring the waterways, enjoying the sunshine, and sleeping on our boat for a few days. Overall, we achieved our goal, but not exactly the way we planned. We weathered two significant storms, and ended the adventure by towing fellow boaters stranded in a disabled vessel that was spewing smoke from its ancient motor.
Today is Wednesday. For six years, I sent out a Social Incites™ every Monday. For the last couple of months, Monday has often turned to Tuesday, and then Wednesday, and Thursday, when I have finally given up on plans to send out a weekly email. I am learning to be gentle with myself when I am unable to meet my own standards. And I am learning to stay calm when my best-laid plans go awry due to busyness, health, or weather. Life is too short to stress over every plan, regardless of how efficient or excellent it might be.
If you are living or working with individuals with autism, you know how firmly they tend to hold to plans, schedules, routines, and traditions. It can be unsettling for them to have to change course, and sometimes, those changes can lead to a total “meltdown” or “shutdown.” While it can be tempting to structure the environment to avoid most change (and the accompanying unpleasant responses), it typically is more valuable to equip them with an understanding of how and why things change, and what they can do to stay calm and to adapt to whatever is next.
The reality is that Wednesday won’t always be soup. It might be sandwiches, leftovers, or an unexpected Social Incites™ article. Whatever it may be, like hungry children, let’s all “come and eat it up!”