Q&A with Jean Winegardner Autism Blogger

“I try really hard to find a balance with my kids where I can let them be who they are and truly honor that, but  still make sure that they are behaving in ways that are appropriate for the setting.”

Q&A with Jean Winegardner Autism Blogger

photo credit Jean Winegardner

I am Jean Winegardner, also known as Stimey. I blog at www.Stimeyland.com (and a couple of other places). I have three kids, one of whom is autistic, all of whom are quirky.
Sam (age 10), Jack (9), and Quinn (almost 7) are pretty intense kids who can spiral out of control in unfamiliar or overstimulating places. Often, when one of them goes, the other two aren’t far behind.

I try hard to find a balance with my kids where I can let them be who they are and truly honor that, but still make sure that they are behaving in ways that are appropriate for the setting. No, I’m not going to stop my son from humming quietly to himself to self-regulate in a restaurant, but I might find an alternate activity if he is spinning in a crowded gift shop.

My family doesn’t use formal social stories to prepare for outings or travel, but I do find that we have far better outcomes when I make sure to do prep work in advance.
I try to think of things that might set them off and let them know my expectations ahead of time as well as letting them know what they can do if they start to feel stressed out.
For example, if we go to a museum, I might give them two or three basic expectations (we can’t run, we have to stay together, we can’t shove in front of other people.) I also give them a couple of ways to deal with stressors (if you have to spin, we can go to the lobby/outside to do it; tell me if you need to leave, don’t just walk away.) So far, the system has worked well for us, and hopefully it will continue to be a good fit as the kids grow older.

For longer term travel, I break it up into pieces, so they don’t have to remember too far into the future.
For example, first: This is how we deal with the airport. Then: This is how I expect you to act on the airplane. Then: We are about to land; this is how we will get our luggage. And so on.

 

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