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
One of the first things my neurotypical children ask me when they get up in the morning is, “What are we going to do today?”
Ah yes, I should have the whole day mapped out by 6:30 a.m. when you get out of bed and are ready to conquer the world.
Several days a month we tell them, “It’s a Louie Day.”
Louie Days are times when everyone in the family understands we are going to do something Louie enjoys, given that there are so few things he can do that we all enjoy.
Sometimes it truly lasts all day.
And other times, it just lasts for a few hours, depending on the activity we pick.
We often feel like we are dragging Louie along through our lives, from soccer games to basketball games to baseball games that he doesn’t understand or participate in. The most he can do in those situations is sit with his iPad, and devour whatever snacks I can give him to keep him occupied just so I can watch my other children play.
So, on Louie Days, it’s understood that we are going to put whatever it is that we want to do aside for his sake.
Surprisingly, it’s worked pretty well for my neurotypical children.
Living in the Moment
I’ve been waiting for the day they will roll their eyes, or sigh or throw their hands up like they do whenever I tell them we don’t have time to go see their friends or that we’re not going to do something they want to do.
Thankfully, by having Louie Days for a while now, it has set the tone early on that today is all about him because so many of our days are not.
Had he been a neurotypical kid, we would be carting him around to his games or clubs or whatever interest he developed.
So, Louie Days are doing just that.
Taking the time to take him to do something he enjoys is essential and fair – even if it means sitting on a bench in a loud trampoline park for an hour so he can jump his heart out and feel the vibration of the music.
Or paying for a membership to our local YMCA so he can swim year-round in an indoor pool – even though swimming is the last thing we want to do on a cold winter day.
Realizing What Matters
I didn’t realize the importance of doing this until one of his preschool teachers pointed it out to me and asked what I had Louie involved in, given how active my neurotypical children seemed to be.
I told her he didn’t really have any interests, so there wasn’t much for him to do.
Then she asked me what he liked to do that didn’t involve sports he could not play.
I told him how much he loved to swim, jump, climb and swing from every kind of swing he can possibly find.
That’s when she asked me how regularly we do those things with him.
I told her we didn’t do them often because the neurotypical kids’ schedules were so busy.
As soon as those words came out of my mouth, I realized what she was trying to show me.
Louie needs just as much of a regular commitment to an activity he loves as my other children, and they need to be taught that just as a typical sibling would be.
And at the end of our Louie Days, everyone feels great about doing something someone we love loves to do, even though he can’t tell us what he wants to do.
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.