No place like Home
Ever since a small boy H has loved being at home. Later I learnt why – it’s familiar, predictable and safe. He has more control in his own surroundings then in the ‘scary outside world’.
H often wants to leave a new place soon after arriving, it can be awkward and embarrassing! Now he can talk a bit more we all know this is the case. Previously, Hugh and I saw the cues and could politely cover it up where possible. I used to be mortified, then I was flattered that my home environment was so good. Then I realised like so many things in life it’s not really about me.
One way we have helped H with this is when we talk about our day or activity we always say we are going home. He doesn’t assume it so we remind him every time! H loving home and struggling so much socially has been one of the biggest challenges of his ASD, especially as I love to be with people. Filling up the diary with lots of social arrangements was my security and happiness whilst for H (see also Hugh) it’s the total opposite!
We have had to work on a happy medium which involves inviting people to us a lot more. I get my ‘social fix’ and H still has the security of the familiar and chance to retreat if he needs. I should say that I am still working on this balance as his brothers needs and preferences become more apparent – it varies week to week! Home is a place where we can be ourselves and let it all hang out!
It’s hard when home is not a place of sanctuary but instead where meltdowns, shouting and anxiety dominate. This will be the case for all of us at some point but for children with additional needs it is amplified. They can hold it in all day then ‘explode’ at home. It’s a bit like taking a lid off a fizzy drinks bottle that has been ‘shaken’ by the unseen stress all day.
Visual timetables, familiar spaces and predictable patterns help H have less meltdowns but he still has quite a few! If you see a child having a meltdown do smile at the parents or give a reassuring glance. People’s reactions can be worse than the meltdown itself!
Remembering what makes a ‘good home’ is important. We all get carried with finding the best toys, curtains and gadgets. Living for ‘later’ rather than ‘now’ is a constant challenge for me. H’s needs are a good daily reminder that this world is #notwithouthope and nothing on earth lasts forever.
The family inside the home are so much more important than the house itself. So whatever your home is like, do share it with others and make your own safe space.
Staying in isn’t all that bad if it’s something that has been forced on you by others needs. But it can take time to adjust to your new normal! If you need an escape do come to me as long as I have enough warning to put you on the visual timetable!
Cover photo by Sebastian Soerensen from Pexels