Autism Keys 1: Coping Styles
We will start at the beginning, and that is in damage control, where we need to find ways to calm our child. We need to help them do the basics in life, like eat and sleep.
For me with Taz, this began when he was newborn. I discovered that if there was music on, he slept. So before he was home a month, he had his own iPod with music. It played every night in his room as he slept. If it turned off, he woke. It was always on shuffle, playing a list of songs in varied order. Every now and then I changed the music, sometimes removing songs that I noticed made him unsettled. I was lucky, because when Taz was only a few days old I had discovered a valuable coping style for him.
Coping Styles are in every part of our lives. They are even in eating. Taz didn’t like new foods, or varied food. Once I discovered he LOVED honey, I put it into almost everything, expanding his acceptable food list by stacks. To cope with new foods, he needed a familiar flavour. He also hated having his hands and face cleaned afterwards, so I sang to him whenever I cleaned him up. I’m not saying he was without upset, in fact, far from it, but these were just a couple of things I did to bring calm to difficult times.
It also needs to be noted here that both obsessions and stims are actually coping styles. Whether your child talks endlessly about trains, spins, chews, or moves their fingers in front of their face, these behaviours are a way of coping for them.
Coping styles are a core part of our lives. Many of our current coping styles were unconsciously taught to us by our parents. Music is still a great calming influence to Taz, at 11 years old. I still eat doughnuts when I’m down, because when I was young dad often got me some to cheer me up. He also took me shopping. I bet you can think of some coping styles your parents gave you. As you get older, you find other coping styles. Some find coffee, drinking, drugs even. I’m happy to say I found music, and still use it to this day. I still have the doughnuts and shopping that dad gave me when I was young too though. Coping styles not only help your child at difficult times, they also help you. If you work on your own coping styles as well, you are better prepared to cope when you children are having difficulties.
The golden rule of coping styles is that if you want/need to remove one, it needs replacement. When my mum gave up smoking, she took up chewing gum (originally nicotine gum, but now normal gum), and she was successful. The same applies to obsessions and stims, but you don’t usually get to choose their replacements.
What are your coping styles? Which ones came from your childhood?
What coping styles are you teaching your children?
What unhealthy/self-destructive coping styles do they have?
The 7 Autism Keys Program is coming soon!
Through Coloured Shattered Glass is very excited to announce that a new online support program for parents of children on the autism spectrum will be launched early in 2018.
If you would like to be one of the first to find out all the details, please register your interest here.
If you would like to discuss the ideas in this post further, tell your story, or share your experiences, please join us on our Facebook page.
Please be respectful of others at all times. We are all on different journeys.
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