As is common in many autism homes, we had PECS cards all over the place.
We started using them when my son was three years old and sort of phased
them out of use by the time he was ten or so. And they were a godsend. We
could tell him when we were going somewhere, he could tell us what he
wanted, or we could tell him what needed to be done instead. We could use
them to make visual schedules so that he could anticipate what would happen
when, to ease his anxiety. And one card that we used quite often was the
Different Card. If the day’s plan deviated from the norm or what he was
used to, we would show him the Different Card with the two arrows pointing
in opposite directions (one up, one down), and he could process the change.
Even in his non-verbal days, we’d show him the Different Card and sometimes
he would just nod slightly in acknowledgment and then keep moving,
seemingly unfazed. He knew something would be different, and he mentally
prepared himself the best he could.
We’re three weeks into July. I thought by now I’d be writing about how
crazy-busy I am with packing my home, downsizing a four-bedroom house into
a two-bedroom apartment. I thought by now my house would be sold. I thought
by now I’d know where my children, especially my teenage son with autism,
would be going to school in September. I thought by now at least some of
the unknowns would have revealed themselves.
But really, I had only hoped. After all, how realistic were any of my
thoughts? And hope, though fervent, is still wishing. Sometimes I feel
foolish, sometimes resigned, often dejected. When things aren’t going the
way you’d hoped, how else should you feel?
It’s hard to keep at it, to remain hopeful. But I’m a long-time
special-needs parent. My son has taught me to believe, and I am a champion
of hope. It’s what I do, what I’ve done all along. My major moving plans
are not going the way I’d hoped, but regardless, I know that life will work
out the way it should. It always does, whether I worried or not. Whether I
planned or not.
And that’s when the other thing that we do best comes into play – when
things don’t turn out as we hoped they would, we adapt. We go with Plan B
(or come up with one on the fly) and keep moving, because that’s what we’ve
always had to do. That’s our life. And whether it feels that way or not, I
think that’s actually pretty hopeful.
As for my situation, what will be, will be. It will be different than how
I’d thought, but that’s okay. I know different; I can handle different. My
son has trouble handling different, but we’ll get through it. I’m not sure
if the Different Card will work as well this time (or if I even still have
it), but he’s come a long way since his non-verbal days, and maybe he’ll
just nod his head and keep moving, like he did all those years ago.
Tanya writes TeenAutism.