I was strolling through town the other day, breathing in the Christmas spirit that was oozing far and wide from the sparkly Christmas decorations. I browsed the aisles of Christmas gifts and memorabilia, and something caught my eye. It was a snow globe. Inside were a group of people smiling, standing perfectly still in the swirling snow, protected by their glass bubble. I felt a pang on emotion and it took me a moment to figure out why.As I looked at this group of people innocently standing there in the globe, I felt as though I could almost see them move. Like the photos in Harry Potter. The little people were smiling and waving. At this point I was obviously slightly concerned that someone had spiked my take away coffee, and continued to trundle down the crowded corridor of Christmas wrapping paper and cards.
As I gazed around at people busying themselves, existing in the world we have formed as a society, I was taken back to a couple of conversations I had had earlier in the week. Both were about how we adapted our lives to accommodate autism. Things that my family had specifically done, and how you form your own reality, your own routine and methods of existing that the outside world might never understand. And then it hit me. The people in the snow globe. If was like looking at my own little family. We exist in a bubble. We smile and from the outside we look quite beautiful (hopefully, I’m sure that’s debatable). But on the inside the snow is simply the tornado of chaos I often refer to. But we stand firm, we survive, and we get ready for the next person to shake up our world and then move on.
When autism enters your life, whether it be from the very first signs or the day you accept a diagnosis, you start to form survival techniques. Mine for example is that I have changed my sleeping hours to fit with the kiddo’s. We both go to bed at 7pm. We are both up 1am to 5am and with any luck we get a couple of hours kip after that. It’s far from ideal, but that’s what we do because it works for us. It gives kiddo the chance to exist in a much less stressful environment and reach his full potential, as I’m not a constant sleep deprived zombie. I was for a while, it wasn’t a pleasant existence.
The point is that whilst the rest of the world works 9-5, stays up until late and watches the popular TV shows, our life follows a very different pattern. I can’t remember the last time I watched an episode of Eastenders when it was broadcast for the first time on TV. Thank God for iplayer is all I can say. The day we stopped trying to live within society’s ideals, within the time constraints we were brought up to live within, even the idea that you’re awake in the day and asleep at night, we became a much happier family.
We didn’t fully surrender to autism, but we accepted it for what it was. A different way of life for our kiddo. And why should he conform to our ideals? What makes our rules any better than his?
Changing some (not all, this isn’t about giving in to autism) of our habits and allowing kiddo to dictate the way forward with things such as sleep and play was the best thing we ever did. We can’t do it for everything. There’s no compromise on safety for example. But we can do enough so that when the snow is swirling and people are staring into the glass bubble that contains our family life, we are all still standing and we are all still smiling.
Thanks for reading,