We’ve been going to therapy to gain skills to feel more confident and less anxious and learning how to ask for help through practice.
His anxiety can potentially stop him from doing things, like leave the house. What his anxiety does is that he struggles to ask for help when he needs or wants something. Whether it’s asking for help to open a can, tying his shoes or when he’s feeling emotionally overwhelmed.
So for the last 3 months, we have been practicing at home and in social settings and yes at home is a lot easier than out in public.
He is currently very focused on earning and saving money for something he wants. He is also aware that you can take your old games and take them to the store to get store credit. It took a minute to understand he wouldn’t receive cash but that the credit works the same but only in that particular store.
Anywho, he practiced what he would say but then in the heat of the moment as he stood at the counter, he froze. With support, he was able to work it out and get himself a bit of store credit.
And so we continue to prompt on what he could do in the moments, what to say or ask for so that he can get the support and advocate for himself.
Sometimes that progress isn’t quite obvious because our routine stays quite the same for the most part until there are moments like the holidays that throw that off a little bit.
Christmas and his birthday are the highest anxiety-inducing events. In years past, when he didn’t get what he expected or wanted, a meltdown surely happened. And it wasn’t because we didn’t teach him that he shouldn’t have expectations on what he would get. No, this him being autistic. Because even after his emotional overwhelm he was able to return to center and then proclaim this was the best day ever.
And this year, this year he has already asked for help from me. And something I noticed over time is that scripting is very useful in outlining the steps or the words in some way.
He came into the room and asked me:
Mom if I feel overwhelmed will you help me?
Of course, I will. But how will I know that you need help?
I could ask for help!
Ok, what if you don’t want anyone to know? What are some non-verbal things you could do?
I don’t know!
Hmm, you could tap me on the shoulder!
And that was that. A conversation on how to handle it and a bit of scripting for him to remind him of the steps that he can take to get the support he needs.
The other part that’s been helpful is to give him the words for what he could be feeling and when he expresses them to listen to him as he shares what caused him said feeling.
But today, I am writing that that months in therapy are slowly paying off. I mean let’s be honest, you don’t always know if they will or not. The next step may be learning to maneuver the public.