Our two oldest children have autism and currently live together in a group home. For many years our life has been shaped by autism. But when first Abby and then later Logan went to live in a group home, our pace of life changed.
It is not that life is easier, it is just different. Our other three children have their own issues and there are times that Logan and Abby are easier. My point is that our family has adjusted to not having long periods of autistic energy.
With a recent move, we have transitioned from weekly short visits to biweekly overnight visits. For Christmas we decided to stretch things and have them over for two nights. This was a strong reminder of what life with autism looks like.
Our son is a runner. He has escaped our previous houses and so it was very much on our mind. So we locked some of the locks on the doors that we don’t normally use. These wouldn’t stop him but what at least would slow him down.
I also chose to sleep on the couch. This allowed me to be in a position where I would know immediately when Logan was up. It would also allow me to stop Abby from ripping apart (unwrapping) all the presents, which she really wanted to do.
The other thing we need to do was to watch for signs of possible meltdowns. People with autism don’t have tantrums, they have meltdowns. If the child gets escalated enough, it could take hours to calm them down. We had to be watching and ready to intervene if we sensed a meltdown was coming.
Do we have it easy with our children in group homes? I’m not so sure. It takes a lot of work to get from our regular rhythm back to our autism readiness.
I need to say that none of this makes Christmas bad. It was actually one of the best Christmases we have had in a long time. Much of that was because Logan and Abby were with us.