Our Autism Story – Day 21 – “Same Thing, Different Results”
Brahm is predictably unpredictable! Taking him places, whether new or familiar, is like playing a game of roulette. Brahm’s behavior can be baffling – he appears to like routines and things to be a certain way, but this does not mean he will act and behave in a consistent manner.
Changing routine or going out of the house requires an immense amount of planning and effort on our end. We make sure Brahm is well-rested, fed, and our backpack is packed with EVERYTHING (headphones, Brahm’s favorite stuffed animals and items, Brahm’s favorite snacks, medicine, sunglasses, tablet, etc.). We also have to give Brahm a countdown for any change in routine or outing. For example, when he wakes up, we give him a rundown of the activities for the day. When we are about 15 minutes out from leaving the house, we give Brahm the head’s up, and then continue to countdown every couple minutes.
Even given all the above preparation, we aren’t always able to predict how Brahm will react and behave. Given the same exact outing, Brahm can range from being a well-behaved little boy to an angry, raging hulk. And sometimes, we just can’t figure out what causes the extreme reactions and behavior. Since Brahm typically cannot verbally express what is upsetting him, we can’t tell what he is thinking or sensing and we have a difficult time knowing what all of his “triggers” are.
We have identified the following triggers: crowded/noisy places, people’s odor & breath, Brahm touching something and not liking the “feel” (he HATES sticky things), saying certain words (calling something “old fashioned”) or if something is broken. But, these triggers are only triggers some of the time.
Even taking Brahm to a familiar places and stores he has been to before can be challenging. There are times where he is great and having fun looking at lights, fans, and other things. Then there are times when he is hostile to other shoppers and check-out line workers. Sometimes he is ok with checking out with merchandise and other times he has a meltdown when he has to pass an item to the cashier. Generally, we find it best to be as efficient as possible and minimize the amount of time in any one store and limit the outing to just one store. This makes getting ANYTHING done nearly impossible!
P.S. – Please keep in mind, we know lack of sleep and hunger effect Brahm’s mood. However, that is not the only reason he may become upset or meltdown at family gatherings and public settings. It’s usually due to sensory issues and anxiety relating to noise and crowds.