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Autism: Extended Support

23 Jan

I am not much of a party person; not at all in fact. So I didn’t do much for New Years Eve this year. We were in bed with the lights off by 10:30pm in fact – later than usual, I admit, but not too different from any other night when my husband doesn’t have to work the next day.

At 12:01am, Clara ran up to me whimpering, then both my girls ran barking to their space at the window. The fireworks had begun. I sat with them (no point taking them back to bed like that) petting and calming them for about 15 minutes until the fireworks were over (it was just a neighbour after all, and firecrackers are expensive) then we went back to bed and slept until 9am. I was thankful my girls allowed me the extra rest, for normally we are up so I can feed them and let them out sometime between 7:30 and 8:30am.

I got through their routine, then went through mine: breakfast, tea, surveys and such on Swagbucks, read the news, go through my emails, read through my news feed on Facebook… I haven’t done my ‘lessons’ in a while. No routine seems to last long, even when I enjoy it. It was 11 before I was finished all of that, and then I watched an episode of ‘Angel’ on Netflix while I was waiting for lunchtime to come.

Lunch was eaten, and it was just after noon when I started my Sims game. I have mentioned in the past how much I love Sims, but I haven’t played much in a while as it started freezing up on my old computer, and then I started having all those issues with that computer, and didn’t play at all.

Since this game was on my new (to me) computer, the house and family I built in my last game didn’t transfer over, and I had to start new. I do get attached to ‘my family’ in Sims, and was disappointed when I learned I couldn’t ‘bring them with me’, but I really enjoy building my houses and creating and naming my family as well.

As I said, I started at noon. For the next nine hours I was completely fixated, and was only (with much difficulty) able to tear myself away to walk, feed, and take my girls outside, and to get my own supper. Even at 9pm, I didn’t want to stop playing, and felt the tug back to the game through the night and until the morning when I was able to start playing again.

That was how I spent my New Years. Though I had to start again, it isn’t even a new game. I have been playing Sims since long before I lost ‘my’ foster children – so at least 7 or 8 years – and I always get fixated for days, weeks, even months at a time where it is pretty much all I can think of.

One thing I did notice especially this time was how when creating my family (on Sims 2 pets for the PC at least, because I am allowed a large family there) is that I always include extra adults to help with the care of the children. Always. I know that if those extra adults aren’t there, I have no hope in properly caring for the children, and I will be completely overwhelmed by the game.

I know this for the Sims. Yet when I had my three very high needs foster children, plus my autistic son to raise, I pretty much tried to do it all myself. Sure I had my husband, but he was away at work full time, so basically I just had him read stories to the children as I bathed the girls (separately) and put them to bed. I also flew my mom in to help for a couple of months a year – but most of the time I was alone, and overwhelmed.

What I needed, I think, was not to lose the children but instead to have a larger group of people caring for them. With the ministry, they believe that having more people caring for the children meant having the children taken to respite and school, and daycare, and other places outside of the home. But I think it is better the way I have it set up in Sims – where the ‘extra’ caregivers are family who all live in the same home. Seamless. When a need arises, it is met, and no one is ever on their own with the children.

True, the Sims world moves fast. Much faster than what happens in real life, or so it would seem. But time does move fast for me. So fast, in fact, that it feels like it is moving as fast as it does in the game (and at least in the game I can, and do, pause often to figure out the next moves so all needs are met.)

In life, I am nearly always overwhelmed, even when I have nothing pressing to do. I can’t help but wonder, however, if I could have been successful in the adoption of ‘my’ children if I too could have had a large built in extended family here to help.

I guess I will never know – but I think the way we do it here in North America, where most families – and most mothers especially – are pretty much doing it alone is a recipe for failure. Perhaps the solution isn’t to take, or send out, or struggle alone with the children, but to build larger extended families with lots of support, where no one is ever alone with the kids.

This from an extreme introvert, autistic person who works best on her own.

welland

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