Sensory challenges for adults with autism- one step at a time

Shoe closeup Will 40percent 10-27-14One step at a time, they say.  My twins W. and J. heartily agree – and if there’s a lesson for other parents and providers in a simple worn-out tennis shoe, it’s that life is a progression of steps toward a goal.  If we keep taking them, we get there – even with autism.

W. kept his tennis shoes and socks on for over 2 hours yesterday on a combined walk and errand run.   I’m celebrating because in this two steps forward, one step back disorder of profound autism – or one step forward/two steps back on certain days – we are making progress.

At age 20 autism is mighty different than at age 6.  Unfortunately service providers and educational systems skew so heavily toward early services that we tend to forget adults of all kind, including those with autism, have sensory needs.  A visiting DDS social worker on Friday suggested I’m not getting W’s school to deliver on W’s sensory aversions.   I’m still thinking about that.  Really after years of school systems applying their cookie cutter service grid regardless of the I in Individualized Education Plan, maybe I have low expectations.

Yet progress of any kind happens because of persistence, and some magical element of leveraging the individuals innate assets to cooperate.   What was the deciding factor yesterday in keeping the shoes on?  Temperature, since it was in the 50’s and W’s feet were cold after wearing Crocs with no socks all day?   Tolerance, since our most wonderful skills trainer has successfully gotten W. to wear said shoes/socks at least 5 times before on neighborhood walks? Mood, as in W. was compliant that day? Overriding sensory regulation, in whatever earlier activities W had undertaken?  None of the above?

So while work awaits, I’m newly energized at multiple goals for W and J. too -as well as myself.  Any goal is possible when you work at it.  Here’s to a day to you all, and me too, of many steps toward even seemingly implacable goals.