Sad Day Pick-Me-Up: Small Actions to Support Your Child With Autism

I am having a sad day. Are you having a sad day? I am having a sad day.

I suspect it has something to do with social ineptitude, lack of sleep, and Iz's sporadic rotten pre-teen attitude which for some reason she unleashes on her dad -- especially uncool because Seymour is the kindest person I know. Anyone messing with my partner = instant rage for me. But the object of my ire is our daughter. So I can't lash and slash and destroy, I have to teach and listen and make her hear and understand.

Some sad days I just don't think I'm up for parenting these spirited girls, am so grateful that I can turn to Leo for comfort, revel in his absolutely accepting and sweet nature. For now. Puberty's gonna get him, too, I know. I've heard. I don't want to think about it yet.

I'm also mulling over Leo's annual IEP, which was yesterday. I can't write much about it yet -- I'm still processing the discussion, and we didn't finish anyhow -- we need a second, wrap up, hammer-all-the-pegs-in-place meeting. But Leo has made great progress, mastering or partially mastering many of his goals, the classroom continues to be dynamic place where the teacher and aides modify their approaches, schedule, and environment to meet his needs (frequently due to guidance from Supervisor M), plus everyone who attended the meeting is on Leo's side -- no other agenda, no costs, no reduction in services was raised. Which is something amidst a budget crisis.

So my sadness is amplified due to being in limbo with Leo's plans for the upcoming year. I loathe limbo. I like checking off boxes, boom, done, move on.

Since I can't flip a switch and fix Iz's attitude and Leo's future, I spent some time taking action on a quick project to support Leo: I typed up the social phrases we constantly practice with him and the sight words he's working on at school and with his wonderful speech therapist Sage, framed them for tidiness (Seymour likes tidy, is disinclined to let me tape lists to the walls), and installed them by the front door.

Now whenever anyone comes over and wants to interact with Leo, they have a checklist: Here are things you can say to him, here are words you can write down in any context and ask him to identify. I used a slip-backed 8 x 11 inch frame so we can change the list whenever we need to. So I've done one good thing today.

What quick fixes help your sinking moods, oh parents of children with challenges?

Here's the list, in case you were thinking of visiting:


• What is your name?
• How old are you?
• When is your birthday?
• What is your address?
• What is your dad’s name?
• What is your mom’s name?
• What is your BIG sister’s name?
• What is your LITTLE sister’s name?
• How are you?
• Where do you go to school?
• What is your teacher’s name?

in order of mastery

• Leo
• Rosa
• go
• car
• snack
• straw
• red
• green
• blue
• yellow


  1. My quick fix = the garden, especially this time of year - a quick whiff of Jasmine or Honeysuckle [which opened yesterday] is enough - probably due to the inhalation exercise.

    And yes we have a triennial [dreadful word] on the 5th of May - not looking forward to that one.

  2. I can't wait to try these out on the young fellow.

    What's yer weekend looking like?

  3. I love the list, and the sight words--I'm so impressed--and I certainly get sad days.

  4. Really quick fix: coffee, too obvious; must be Peets.

    Somewhat better: Teaching, during which no matter how hard I try to stay focused on Latin, some words about Charlie slip in. Helps to talk it out, for me.

    And then there's internet window shopping---poetry books and other things.

  5. HUGS_
    Quick fix- go for a walk or get some exercise. Bring up those endorphins.

  6. I LOVE the idea of having a list! Most people that know my Bugaboo know what to say to him or do with him (he's non verbal) but some don't. I'm putting a list on the fridge!

  7. I agree with Elise! Getting endorphins any way you can helps me A LOT! I also listen to relaxation/meditation cd's! They have helped me, of course relax, in addition to giving me an opportunity to think things through and listen to my own intuition and follow it more.
    Great Post and I love the idea of 'neatly' posting the list, etc!!!! HUGS, Coreen

  8. Thank you for the conversation and encouragement - here, and on Twitter, Facebook, email. :) Exercise is critical, really need to make that effort.

    Staying still is what works not at all, sounds like same is the case for you folks as well.

    Maddy, good luck on your IEP.

    Michael, we'll see you Sunday.

    Vicki, the list will be awesome. Mali was repeated it to herself this AM - it's right at her eye level.

    Kristina, I suspect that some days I have more coffee than plasma in my veins. My current version of poetry books (Seymour's domain) is X-Men comix.

    Elise, sigh, it's raining right now. Flowers and Mali's seedlings are happy, though.

    Domestic Goddess, sometimes the simplest ideas make such a huge difference. But it's hard to think of them all ourselves, which is why I rely so heavily on our Internet Hive Mind.

    Coreen, Okay fine, I'll start exercising more. :)

  9. jankat8:31 PM

    Long time lurker here. Love your writing.

    I just noticed that "Leelo" has become "Leo" in your entries. Has that been changed for awhile and I just noticed it?

    I hope you are less sad soon!

  10. I'm all for quick fixes--that's for sure! I too have lists for Meghan--at least her school does, and it works well most of the time.

  11. @jankat, thank you for sticking with me! Leo, Leelo; I use them interchangeably IRL so why not here, I figure. Plus when my mom was visiting last week, she sat on a stool next to me, reading and commenting aloud on my latest Squidalicious blog post; so stealth mode is no longer a concern. :)

    @Holly, how lovely to hear from you. Glad to hear the lists are working for your Meghan. Would enjoy hearing more about the quick fixes that work for you.

  12. Hey, Squid. I hear you on the sad thing. I've been feeling it too...maybe it's allergies putting us out of whack?
    My quick-ish fix as of late is to go sea glass hunting. I can happily plant M in a sensory-filled wonderland while I block out all the crap and focus on the beautiful ocean and searching for a new piece for my collection. Come join us some time!

  13. Must be back-to-school blues cause I just blogged on this too.

    The cringingly embarrassing answer?

    John Denver - on tap - now!

    Intravenously until well-hydrated.

    Of course,having admitted that, I can never show my face in public again. Lucky I don't go out much.

  14. How clever to frame them!!! Why haven't I thought of that? Instead I pepper my house with white boards. Your idea is so much cuter.

    Quick fixes? Shower or hot bath, coffee, coffee, coffee and, when things get really sad, a generous glass of red wine.

  15. No advice, just good wishes and my continuing admiration of your resourcefulness. And good on you for thinking of the list: hope Leelo gets much practice.

  16. I'm sorry you're sad.
    Thanks for the ideas on using the iPad; I am considering getting one for Nat!


Respectful disagreement encouraged.