Advent is a time of waiting. A longing for Christmas where a break from school runs and time with family and friends awaits for many.
It’s also a crazy busy time with all the planning, shopping, ‘jigsaw puzzle child care’, costumes and expense.
For H it’s a really tricky time. He’s so excited and so anxious all at once! Changes in his routine mean he sleeps less, eats more and some of his struggles are highlighted.
H finds waiting really hard. It’s one of the most draining parts of his ASD for us as he will ask continually when something is happening. He needs the reassurance that it will actually happen. Although he’s excited about it he also wants to go so it’s over. As soon as one thing is finished he moves onto the next thing – it’s really relentless at times.
On some occasions it can seem that the waiting and looking forward to is better than the event itself. One such example was H’s birthday party. He could barely contain the excitement the week before and asked over 100 times that morning when we were going. Note to self: have morning parties!
When the actual party came he struggled to interact at points and it was quite overwhelming for him. Parties are sensory overload, familiar people in the wrong place and the attention on him.
Thankfully he looks back as though it was the best time ever. There were points where he managed well, but he was never relaxed. We try to push him out his comfort zone sometimes to help prepare him for real life and the memories are worth it!
Here are some strategies that help H to wait – but I’d love to hear any more ideas you have.
Top 3 ways to help waiting…
- We use a visual timetable with now and next board so he can see the order of things. This gets used for longer waiting too, like a countdown to a holiday.
- Timers are great. We have them everywhere in our house and they do help. The magnetic timers for cooking that stick to the fridge work really well for us.
- We look out for visual clues in the environment. ‘We can’t go yet it’s dark and 5am!’ ‘That’s not open yet as the workers are sleeping’ if you catch my drift…
We are trying to help him see the reasons behind the waiting to put him at peace. It’s not easy though!
At this time of Advent it’s worth making space and time to think more about what we may be ultimately waiting for. I believe it’s not about a single day where we eat too much and lavish gifts on each other, however fun that may be.
But this time of Advent is about a longing for a forever home, a home provided by the baby in the manager, who left his home. Waiting for something we really want is so hard and at times will dominate all our thinking. It’s so good to know that as we wait for Home, whatever the wait looks like, we will never be disappointed when we get there.
For now though it’s lots of deep breaths, visuals, patience in bucket loads and plenty of cake to help us along!