Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

T is for Transitions

with 4 comments

Back to my A-Z, and here comes T. T is for transitions. If there is one thing I know about as mother to a child on the autism spectrum (and one not quite), who have lived on four continents…it is transitions.

I’m always interested in transitions, and the way children and adults respond to them. We just moved again to South America, and to say that my children handled it well feels like the world’s biggest understatement. They have always been, and continue to be very excited by each move. They breeze through goodbye ceremonies, and jump right into new homes, new schools, new adventures.

The hardest transition we ever faced was when Cubby was first born, and we left Europe for a brief stay in the U.S. on our way to Bolivia. We never got there, as it was during this time we noticed Pudding’s differences, that would eventually lead to her diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum.

I remember a low point where we had less than a week for my husband to find a job, for us to find a home to rent, and figure out what services we needed for Pudding, and eventually Cubby too. We were rookies, learning our lessons the hard way.

In the five years that have passed, we’ve learned some supports that help, but yet I see friends apply those same strategies to their own children for smaller transitions, and they still seem bumpy compared to our big ones. At times I wonder if experiencing such a painful transition helped rewire our brains, or at least reframe each subsequent move into something that seemed navigable by comparison.

One of the strategies we use for dealing with tough transitions is to make sure we are entirely open with the children about what to expect. For this last move, the kids and I had to go by ourselves in order to arrive in time for the start of school. For a few weeks, we didn’t know when he would be able to join us, then we finally got a date.

Daddy was due to arrive on Thursday, a fact that we had talked about, written down, added to calendars, you know the drill. So, of course, last night I was dealt the task of having to explain that a general strike in the city meant he could no longer fly in when he was supposed to. And even though they have been anticipating this date, with a few tears from Cubby, and a little repetition from Pudding, they just accepted this new truth. A truth that would have sent me as a child into a full blown meltdown.

Which is not to say that we don’t experience the meltdown. Cubby is a classic attention-seeker, and will use his behaviour to get noticed, if that is what it takes. And naturally, he needs a lot of extra attention during this time. Pudding, on the other hand, reserves her rare meltdowns for one very specific reason: injustice.

She finishes her school at one, although the rest of the school continues until half-past three. The reason is to give her time to get to her therapies, which can’t be provided by school. But Pudding doesn’t accept the reason, and sees only the unfairness of having to leave when all  the other kids (including her younger brother) get to stay.

Interestingly, those who observe her reactions, and don’t know Pudding as well as I do, have been known to use such instances as evidence that she “struggles with transitions.” Nope. She struggles with unfairness.

And unlike transitions, I’m at a loss to help her to deal with these negative experiences, other than offering my empathy and comfort. Because while I hate for her to be so upset, I’m glad that she she has this sense of justice, and expectation of fair treatment. I’m glad she uses her behaviour to communicate what she can’t fully express in words. Such indignation of unfair treatment will serve her well.

You see, there is always a bigger transition ahead of us. Bigger than moving countries- or continents, even- is the transition to self-advocacy. These are tools she will need to deploy for the rest of her life, especially when I’m not around. Or perhaps, because I’m around, but I’m not her voice: she is. 

The real question is: will I ever be able to transition as well as my kids do? 

Spectrummy Daddy, we’ll see you on Friday (I hope)!

This post is part of my A-Z series. You can read the others by clicking–> here<–.

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

August 26, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Posted in A to Z

4 Responses

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  1. I so love how Pudding just goes with the flow and takes everything in her stride. She really does rock. As does the rest of the Spectrummy family. xx

    Bright Side of Life

    August 28, 2014 at 9:15 pm

  2. There are SO many reasons I adored this post. I really relate to the injustice bit, for one, as would my G.
    But I think it’s even more because of the way you’ve questioned the stereotype of people on the spectrum always being “bad with transitions.” My guys, too, handle some major transitions with aplomb and even joy (and hey, nice to see someone with, ahem, an even nuttier life than ours 😉 – laughing with you not at!). In fact. as for you, they do so better than I do. Perhaps this is because of what we know today about easing and preparing for them?
    Anyway, thanks!

    Full Spectrum Mama

    September 2, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    • It is a little crazy this life, but it is our normal. I think we’d all start to unravel if we had to live like everyone else. 😉

      Spectrummy Mummy

      September 4, 2014 at 2:10 pm


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