Tag Archives: Social stories for kids with autism

Bennett tries new things

When Bennett was three the psychologist at his school created a social story for our family called Bennett tries new things. The book showed Bennett holding a hockey stick, trick-or-treating and swimming; in short, things he doesn’t do very frequently. The idea behind the story was that if I read it to him a lot he would become more open to doing things out of his comfort zone.

Eighteen months later I think Bennett has finally taken the book to heart (yes, change in an autistic child sometimes happens at a glacial pace). This weekend he hit three milestones and we are incredibly proud parents.

1. Bennett skied! For real, at Canada Olympic Park. Under the expert tutelage of COP instructor Eric Gerstenbuhler, Bennett got the hang of his French fries on the bunny hill. He still needs a lot of work on his pizza (it’s kind of important for that skill called stopping); fortunately he has another private lesson with Eric next Sunday. I am writing all about Bennett’s first lesson for Snowseekers and the story will be up later this week.

See what I mean about the French fries?

See what I mean about the French fries?

2. Bennett hung ornaments on the tree for the first time! We are so happy our little guy wanted to be part of the tree trimming tradition this year, though it looks like he inherited his sister’s knack for hanging 10 ornaments all on the same branch.

Bennett hangs an ornament!

Trimming the tree.

3. Bennett had a conversation with Santa! He has sat on the fat man’s lap in previous years and suffered through the experience. This year, however, he actually answered Santa’s questions.

Santa: “What do you want for Christmas?”

Bennett: “How about a cookie?” (In truth he had spotted another child eating a cookie.) Still, it’s progress. Way to go, B!

Santa is stoked he only has to bring Bennett a cookie!

Santa is stoked he only has to bring Bennett a cookie!

Sometimes, Mommy and Daddy like to go on trips (no kids allowed!)

During the month leading up to our departure I’d been reading Bennett a social story about our trip. A “social story” is a tool used for kids on the autism spectrum, to help prepare them for an upcoming event, or get them used to a new idea.

A social story helped prepare Bennett for our departure.

Bennett’s story was all about how some families like to travel, but then sometimes just the parents go on a trip and leave the children behind with their grandparents for some special Grammie and Grandma time. Bennett loves the story even though the images look nothing like anyone in our family. I truly think it helped him prepare mentally for our departure.

Here Blake and I are, as Bennett would say, “Climbing up a mountain in Africa!”

When I told people we were travelling to Africa for two weeks there were usually two reactions.

  1. “OMG I’m so jealous! I would love to escape my children for two weeks! That sounds like absolute heaven!” Or,
  2. “Wow, that’s a long time.” (Subtext: “You’re going to Africa and leaving your precious children for that long? What if something happens to them? Or to you?”)

Of course, there are always risks involved with travel, but there are also risks involved when I merge onto Deerfoot Trail during rush hour. As for how my kids will “cope” with our absence, I actually think they will thrive. I’ve noticed that Bennett is much more co-operative with his grandparents and his aides when I am not around (this also explains why his school thinks he’s an obedient child who never cries). Avery adjusts well to change and is so busy with school, activities and friends, two weeks will fly by.

I wrote a column for the Calgary Herald on this very topic when Avery was a baby and Blake and I were leaving her with an aunt and uncle so we could ski at Whistler for the weekend. A local family psychologist that I interviewed for the story called travelling without kids “healthy selfishness,” adding that couple time away from the kids is “absolutely crucial, but it’s something that does not get included in pre-natal classes. It sure makes sense to me that everyone would want to take a break from parenting — it’s a huge job.”

Well, amen to that. So, Blake and I will enjoy this trip (mostly) guilt-free and return home energized and ready to embrace the relentless job that is parenting, eager to swap stories about our adventures with our kids.

What about you? Have you left your children behind to go on a big trip?

Enjoying a weekend in Montreal last June, sans kiddos.