With children on the spectrum, it's so easy to get, well, comfortable with certain things. Our children can be so habitual, and habits can be good things...or at least things you come to expect.
Take, for example, Thomas the Tank Engine. So many autistic children obsess on Thomas that actual scientific studies have been conducted to figure out why. Jack has loved Thomas since he was two. He plays with the engines repetitively, moving them back and forth at eye level for hours on end if left to his own devices. When he was two, we thought this was evidence that he would grow up to be an engineer like his grandfather. Then we learned at almost four about autism and that this sort of repetitive play for years on end is BAD, not normal, not cute.
For years, Jack wanted a Thomas cake for his birthday, and every year, I shelled out the $20 for one at Kroger. Jack only eats frosting and is quite happy with a spoon and jar of frosting, so this $20 seemed a waste of money. Last year, when we removed the Thomas track and wind-up train from the cake, I set them aside with plans of making a Duncan Hines cake this year and reusing the kit.
For the last six months, Jack has been talking about his birthday and what he wants to do. "I want a Thomas cake and lots of presents and to go to the Blue Fish Museum for my birthday." (Blue Fish Museum = Newport Aquarium) Anyway, a few weeks ago, we were at Kroger walking past the bakery department and Jack saw...a Ben 10 cake. "Mommy, mommy, mommy! Look, a Ben 10 cake. I want a Ben 10 cake for my birthday!"
I replied, "Don't you want a Thomas cake like always? You love Thomas."
He said, "No. I definitely want a Ben 10 cake. It's unusual for me."
Have you ever made plans--large or small--with the autism in mind, and had your child make progress in an unexpected and somewhat frustrating way? Or am I just a whiner?