As the leaves start to show more yellow than green and the weather turns mild, people start to say, “It is time to get back to the old grind.” They are talking about school. I understand the statement, but I never felt that getting back into the routines of school were a grind. For us it is the opposite. I look forward to the autumn like a cold glass of water after being lost in the desert for three months.
Autism can make summer the hardest time of the year.
Most kids with Autism thrive on routine. They feel safe in a predictable world. Summer strips away the predictability and leaves chaos in its wake.
Summer is just a season, but people treat it like its some sort of free pass from prison. Perhaps that is true for some. Kids are out of school and people take vacations, go camping, and “really live”. I sometimes wish that we could have the freedom to go on vacations, or go to the swimming pool, or let my kiddo ride his bike around the neighborhood just like all the other kids, but Autism is in our lives to stay. Structure, supervision and routine are the foundations of our existence.
We try every year to keep to some kind of schedule during the summer months. Getting up at the same time, eating at the same time, doing some educational stuff like worksheets and having recess all on a schedule, but it is so easy to fall off the routine. We have no bells or classrooms, we have no teachers or other kids. We only have mom. Anything can throw off the routine, an unplanned trip, a doctor’s appointment, or even the weather. Even the long hours of summer work against us making bedtimes a fight because it is still light until almost 11 pm.
I struggle every year to keep us on track. I start out so optimistic but day in and day out being the only one here makes it hard to keep up the pace. It’s 24 hour a day vigilance. It’s exhausting and I lose my way.
So as the leaves change, I feel like my path is clear again. School has started. That means schedules and schedules mean calm. Everything settles into its proper place. I find myself relaxing and not just because of school.
I feel like summer is noisy and crazy. When fall comes, the world quiets. The busy buzzing in the air that come with summer falls away. The sounds of lawn mowers fade. Even the wind isn’t as loud. And I find myself slowing down.
I found myself sitting on a stool just inside my door for about 15 minutes just watching this bird sitting on my front railing. That is not something that happens in summer. The bird would have flown away as soon as it saw me.
How often during summer do we notice things like the sky? Oh, people notice it is clear or cloudy, but do we really see it? Maybe some people do but I feel like I never have the time. I’m so busy trying to deal with the chaos of summer that I miss the beauty of it.
I’m so relieved that summer is ending and autumn is here. I feel like I can breath again. My head is clearing and I feel like I can handle my life again. I feel like I have transitioned into a quieter life.