As usual, after returning from school, Ethan was looking for the best deal.. what’s available to eat ..rice, sabzi, dosa .. no nothing that appealed to him. Then he proceeded to open the shelf, took out the iron frying pot and put it on the stove and asked me to turn on the gas. Next, he checked the freezer to get the fries, but there were no fries. He would have been perfectly fine not seeing the fries ( developed kind of good level of acceptance of situation). I thought this is the right opportunity, I gave 100rs from my purse and told let’s go to the shop and buy fries, he loved my offer, he took out his 3 -wheel scooter and took 100 rs from me and put it in the scooter basket. I decided to take Niki (our dog) along too, I love making situations more dynamic and who else can make it more dynamic than Niki?
Without any distraction, Ethan reached the downstairs shop. Ethan is extremely familiar with the shop being one of the most regular visitors. I stayed outside the shop with Niki, he entered the shop and first tried to take ice cream, I reminded him a couple of times that we are here to buy french fries and he acknowledged it by trying to reach out for the fries. He is too experienced with shopping to look for the fries in all probable places and finally, he found the fries packet. He took the fries packet and handed it over to the person at the billing counter, meantime he took the chance and took a packet of chocos too. I decided to let him enjoy the treat. Also, I asked the billing person to ask Ethan for money, the person did the same and Ethan without any struggle took the 100rs from his scooter’s basket. Purposefully I did not ask for a cover. Ethan kept asking me to open the chocos packet and I told him clearly that we would open only at home. Finally, he took the French fries packet, chocos and then he already has the scooter. He struggled to adjust the 2 packets in his hands along with the scooter, then he kept French fries packet in the scooter basket, chocos in his hand and kind of riding the scooter. I kept walking in front along with Niki till we reach the elevator. He felt down once in between trying to adjust, but I saw him making sure collecting everything back, he struggled to have to adjust 3 things. Then I entered the elevator and was waiting for him and that moment he realized he needs to speed up in order to get inside the lift fast before the lift door closes, and what I saw just made my day .. he just lifted the scooter in one hand and chocos packet in another started running to the lift and got inside it quickly and gave me a big broad smile !
The above story seems to be more or less simple and smooth, but it can be such a struggle for a child with autism, imagine you are instructing the child at every step, guiding him, telling him, reminding him what to do, how to behave, what to expect ..it can be just too overwhelming.
The above could be so simple and smooth today with Ethan, because we have worked with all the pre- requisites of attaining to this level: Numerous dynamic, unstructured experience with shopping for last 2.5 years, working on myself to slow down and giving instructions when its really essential, giving him lot of opportunity of problem solving, opportunity of pushing himself to think, plan and execute , max experience of dynamic multi sensory environment in turn he is learning to cope and stay very focused on all distractions and some basic language understanding. Numerous such experiences are just tiny little steps for him towards independence and we tried to do it today just at the right moment!