June 8, 2015

Directionally Un-Challenged

Oh, the wonders of autism.

I've come to realize that Brandon understands how to get places.

Last week we started a kindergarten readiness playgroup.  We meet on Friday mornings.  Typically on a Friday morning, we get up, get ready for the day, put Brandon's backpack in the car, and drive off to school.  Since playgroup is on a week day, I just take him to school right after.  (Brandon goes to a private preschool which is in session during the summer.)

This story has a lot of details, so stay with me.

When we go to school, we take a right out of the subdivision, and then a right on the main road.  This particular Friday we took a left to get to the playgroup.  Brandon flipped out.  He was kicking, screaming, and just truly distraught.

I wondered, "Did he just flip out because he thinks I went the wrong way?"

Remember, Brandon can't talk, and his receptive language is very delayed.  He would have no way to say, "Mom, you went the wrong way, and it's devastating for me that you've interrupted my routine."  And even though I'm saying, "Brandon, we're going to Milo's house to play.  It's okay, Brandon.  We're going to Milo's," he comprehends none of it.

"Wow...does he really know how to get to his school?"

I mulled this over.  He doesn't know what the word "school" means, but he knows how to get there?

We do go left all the time to go to my parent's house, but that is not a consistent day and time - not part of a routine, like going to school.

I wondered...

Then, another thing happened that confirmed my suspicion.

Yesterday, I got Brandon all dressed up in him swimming gear, and loaded him and all of our pool stuff in the car.  He was perfectly content in the car.  That is, until we reached the fork in the road of our subdivision where we either turn left to leave it, or turn right to get to the community pool. 

I turned left.  

He melted down.  

I wasn't trying to set him off...we were going to my sister's pool instead of ours.  I told him this multiple times before we left, even though I knew he didn't understand.  When he was freaking out, I just kept saying, "Aunt Shelly's pool.  Aunt Shelly's pool."  Luckily, the meltdown was short lived.

Then, when I made a left to get to Shelly's pool, instead of straight to get to her house, Brandon hollered.  When he caught glimpse of the pool and realized what I was doing, instantly calmed down.

I know what many of you are thinking.  This seems like a huge pain for me - and of course, it's not pleasant when he is screaming bloody murder in the car.  But I'm actually excited and proud that Brandon has the cognition to remember and comprehend where we go.

If we drive away from the house and I realize I forgot something (this happens often), and I turn around, Brandon always melts down.  I had always chalked this up to him not wanting to go back home so quickly.  That he was upset that the drive only lasted about 30 seconds.  Now, I realize he probably gets so upset because thinks I don't know what I'm doing!


  1. Yay! We got a mention on your blog. :) Milo does the same thing when we have to turn around because I forgot something. He also used to get upset when I dropped Linus off at my parents' house for co-op and he couldn't stay, too. Now, I never "run by" my parents' house unless we can stay for a while, because Milo will cry crocodile tears. I agree with you-- it's very exciting to know they understand what is happening!!!

  2. My little Leo does the same thing as well, I asked the ABA therapist about ways to help, and she said to have a transition toy only for these specific meltdowns, like one in the car the Brandon can only use if he is starting to have a meltdown, something he loves. I am tried it once and it helped but then he didn't want to let it go, that is the tricky part :)


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