Why "Running with Bunions"?

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Transition in Autism and Divorce

Transition Be Like...
It's Transition Day! When the children return following a visit at their other home. Would they be fed and rested? Teeth brushed? Clean? What would they need to return to balance? Food? Sleep? Sensory squeeze? A bounce on the trampoline? In the words of Forrest Gump: "you never know what you're gonna get."
 
Transition…shatters the status quo…It's leaving any activity, especially when it's "preferred," for any other activity, preferred or not.
 
This day, the door opened and two happy people bounded in. Amaze Girl beamed. "We went to Dollar Tree!"
 
In autism – and divorce – the most stressful transitions are when children are transferred between two divergent homes. With adults who refuse to communicate, participate, cooperate. Whose parenting styles, in the words of one clinician, are "substantially different."
 
There may be exhaustion. Hunger. Loss of words and eye contact. Inability to focus. Crusty teeth. Tears, stims and Self Injurious Behaviors (SIBS). It can take two days to balance, feed and rest little bodies so work – growth, recovery, progress - might happen again.
 
Just in time for the next transition.
 
When an estranged parent chooses to be absent from the everyday, gives up the work of parenting to a partner and refuses communication with her co-parent, transitions are made yet more difficult. A child's ability to learn may be compromised. His growth inhibited. Her social and life experiences limited.
 
When parents don't work together? It's. Hard. On. The. Kids.
"…the relationship between the parents is a critical component to a child's proper development…" Judith Wallerstein, Second Chances: Men, Women and Children, a Decade After Divorce
(Read Judith Wallerstein's 25-year study, "The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce": http://fellowshipoftheparks.com/Documents%5CUnexpected_Legacy_of_Divorce.pdf)
It's not just about the kids. Adults who step away from parenting opportunities miss out too. Because love grows out of seeds planted in the smallest seeming moments.
  • Make smiley face pancakes for breakfast.
  • Write a note and tuck it into a homemade school lunch.
  • Drive her to school and/or pick her up at the end of the day.
  • Wait with her for the school bus to arrive when it's not your custodial day.
  • Attend the school musical, open house, class play, Halloween and/or Christmas party.
  • Visit for school lunch. Go to recess. Meet her teacher and friends.
  • Turn off the tv. Take him outside. Play.
  • Be present at transition. Speak to your co-parent.
Children crave attention from both parents all the time, every day, even-when-it's-not-your-weekend. Children love unconditionally no-matter-who-you-are-and-what-you've-done (or not done). They don't care whether you work or stay home, live in a big house or small apartment. They're not interested in the car you drive, clothes you wear or how great you look in that selfie.
 
They just want you. Present. Available. Grudge-free. In the big things. And the small moments.
 
Because sometimes all it takes to ease the stress of transition, keep a child's learning on track and make her happy? An outing to Dollar Tree.

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