• Understanding Autism from the Inside

    “Academics came easily to me. The rest of life—not so much.”
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Tangible Accomplishments Equal Calm

Many times when I’m on the brink of a meltdown, tangible accomplishments can restore my sense of peace. I know this, so I had a plan.

What do I mean by tangible accomplishments? Something that at the end of my day, I can see with my eyes. This for me, is usually something to do with my hands–fixing, building, painting, and yes, writing, which is the tool I am utilizing now. But the trick is that I must create something I can look at. Maybe I should rethink the idea of accomplishing, and change it to creating. It had just occurred to me that completing a reading assignment, cleaning the house, or grocery shopping could be seen as accomplishing something today, but would fail to create the sense of calm I am seeking.

Creating something, on the other hand, forces me to focus and helps me decompress. For me relaxing means activity. Did I mention that when I was particularly stressed a few months ago, I repainted my kitchen three times! I’m veering off topic here.

What was the plan?

Finish my book review on Sparrow Migrations, and then pick up my mother and go to Home Depot to pick out molding and a new light fixture for my dining room turned home office. I thought about attempting to finish the one unpainted wall and put together my desk that is sitting un-assembled in a box on the floor, but I knew my list was becoming over ambitious. Plus, I needed to order my new office chair from office monster. No home office desk would be complete without an office chair after all. Put simply, my thought was that if I could at least write my review and get out of the house while still working to put my office space together, then I would be calm enough to deal with the Tot when he gets off the bus, and therefore I would be able to accomplish enough to relax this evening with my history assignment.

Big Fat Failed Plan!

I wrote my review, put the baby down for a nap, and hopped in the shower feeling pretty good about my day. But the whole thing came crashing down, likely because it was so delicately balanced to begin with, when I went upstairs to discover that my bank card was not where Hubby thought he left it! I spent the next two hours frantically searching the house in all the places he thought it could be…no luck!

I am terribly sick of spending so much of my time searching for things. It sucks up the very short amount of time I have to do anything during the day.

Frustration building, hands began to shake, tears welled up, and the fumbling to find my own words began. My best efforts to avert a meltdown failed, again. Outing cancelled, out of time, school bus on its way home…hope for calm replaced by screaming. Sometimes a plan gone sideways is worse than no plan at all.

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.

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