By Christine Denise
Autism Mom and Contributing Writer for As You Are, a virtual clinic dramatically increasing access to early autism diagnostic services through the use of exclusively telehealth appointments
The other day, I picked up my neurotypical children at a friend’s house and did a double take as I walked by a wall calendar in the family’s kitchen.
Every inch of space on nearly every day – and certainly every weekend – was covered with all kinds of activities.
The family has five children. All of them are neurotypical. All of them are athletic.
I told the mother I had no idea how she could keep up with all of it.
I came home that day and walked past my own wall calendar.
It seemed so bare.
Not Your Average Calendar
Our neurotypical twins play on the same sports teams, so other than their one game per weekend and practices, we really don’t have much on our calendar.
There is really nothing on the calendar for our son with autism.
I started to feel guilty – of course.
I started thinking I wasn’t keeping my son with autism busy enough.
Then, I went and sat down next to my son, Louie.
He was doing one of his favorite things – watching speech therapy videos on his iPad, snuggled up on our couch.
A few times, he got up, and started spinning and jumping around to the music he was hearing.
And his smile beamed from ear to ear.
Later that day, I went out of my way to get a car wash because that’s one of his favorite things to do.
We went grocery shopping. He rode in the cart, listening to his favorite songs. And he loved it.
These are things that I wouldn’t necessarily put on a calendar.
And yet, they are my son’s favorite things to do.
I started to realize that even though we didn’t have activities planned for him, that’s not what necessarily brings him joy.
The simpler things bring him joy.
Don’t Get Caught up in Comparison
I also read blogs and follow Facebook pages of other families of children with autism.
A few of them have touched on the same exact thing – the notion that our calendars aren’t necessarily full of the typical activities that keep kids most busy, and that’s perfectly okay.
Because our children find joy in a lot of the types of things we wouldn’t put on our calendars.
One dad I follow talked about how much time he spent on the weekends giving his son rides in the car. His son loves rolling down the window, feeling wind on his face and listening to music.
It’s how they spend at least an hour every Saturday morning.
And it’s perfect, because his son absolutely loves it.
And he loves nothing more than to see his son experience absolute joy and smile from ear to ear – even if it means a simple ride in the car.
A Simple Life, Not a Busy One
I started to feel better about our manageable schedule, and realized that my son with autism isn’t missing out on a busy life.
He doesn’t need to constantly be coming and going to different places and activities to have a fun and fulfilling day.
And we don’t need to fill our calendar from top to bottom.
Whatever makes our son with autism smile is how best to spend our time – even if it’s not on the calendar.
Do you have questions about your child’s development? The team at As You Are provides useful autism screening and diagnostic evaluations for kids 16 months to 10 years old via telehealth appointments.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This is a sponsored blog post, but all opinions are my own.