How Visual Supports Made Me The “Best Mom Ever”!
Savannah loves celebrating her birthday and usually begins planning it months in advance. This year, she and her dad decided that a camping themed party would be great fun. Savannah understands the calendar really well, and it was not unusual for her to correct us about days and dates.
Some weeks before, she wrote out her own invitation and menu using her speech generating software.
And for a long while, she began counting down towards her big day. The night before her birthday, the whole family camped in our lounge; even roasting marshmallows at the fireplace. On her birthday she had lots of fun and enjoyed her ‘campfire” inspired cake.
But nothing is always simple for people with autism, or their families. For some reason (possibly a combination of factors) Savannah woke up on Monday morning, believing it was Tuesday. This has never happened to her before and I couldn’t find any information as to why this was happening. It was relatively distressing for us and also caused her much anxiety and confusion.
So back to visual supports we went. I made a calendar with symbol support and recounted the days that had passed, while she crossed them off, all the while affirming the information. At this point we are still doing this and she crosses off each day after affirming the day and date that she is in. Savannah is slowly regaining her ability to place herself in the correct day and date.
Two nights ago we worked together to make the calendar for September when Savannah said “best mom ever my calendar”. That is “You are the best mom ever for making my calendar”. It was such a good reminder for me about how big a meaning, the correct supports have for people with Autism . Sometimes people tell me I do too much for her or they seem daunted by how much support she requires to function in this world.
I used to see it that way too. It all felt like too much work and too many details. But now when I look at this 19 year old young lady, who works so hard to make sense of the world, and sometimes can’t figure out for herself what and why it is so hard; I think what I do for her is pretty small in comparison. So I’m deeply appreciative and overwhelmed that she understands enough about what she needs and what is important to help her, that she could say something as kind and meaningful as “best mom ever”. Yes, I’ll be making visual supports for as long as she needs them, or if she learns to make them herself. Anything is possible.