Spring Break and a Lapse in Autism Symptoms

by J

For most families, a break from school means time to spend with family, a few fun day trips and maybe the completion of a few much needed projects around the house. For families living with autism, a break from school means loss of routine and all of the regression that comes with it. It took us almost 3 months to recover from winter break, and anyone who knows me well, knows that just the talk of spring break literally made my eyes well and my voice crack.

I was dreading spring break like a death row inmate dreads the electric chair.

After-all, there would be days with family, day trips and things that needed to be done around the house. The loss of routine was sure to send our sweet little man out of control again. Just at Easter alone, we would have to enter a house- full of people- and then find eggs in the lawn. These things with autism seemed too overwhelming… almost impossible.

You may remember my post about my suspicions about the full moon and  autism and then my next post about the difference a day could make. Little did I know that starting that Friday, I would have a ‘typical’ child for one whole week.

Friday started out awesome, and it continued into Saturday. We watched a few social stories on Easter egg hunts and we took him to one at the local hall. I watched in amazement as he entered the hall with no tantrum, ran around with the kids, did crafts and… hunted for easter eggs!!! It was so awesome, that I took him to another community egg hunt an hour or so later! We even went and had lunch, in a restaurant, where he sat with me and ate.

The next day was Easter and as I mentioned in a previous post, I had several reservations. Mostly, having to walk into a family member’s house. S did great though, and walked in just fine! I was shocked! I stood in amazement as I was able to talk with family and eat food rather than deal with an hour long meltdown and chase him from the stairs for hours on end. He spent most of his time playing with a gift the Easter bunny had brought him (a BMX finger bike) and sitting with my 80 something grandparents… but, he was there… and calm… and confident. He also looked for eggs during the family hunt, and even found the golden egg!

Things went so well over the weekend, that I decided to potty train! I knew this was our last break for a while, and had been bouncing the idea around in my head for a few weeks. I was hesitant, since sitting in the house can be too much for S and he gets really stir crazy. Since he is so sensory seeking, I usually try to keep him out an about as much as possible throughout the day. But, since he was doing so great, we bit the bullet; and it turns out… S is a potty prodigy! He took to it right away and I’m glad to say that we have been diaper-free since we started.

The entire week of spring break was just fantastic. We did all the ‘typical’ things that most families do on a holiday break… we visited family, we did holiday traditions, we took road trips, we ate out, we had play dates and we hung around and spent some time together. He even walked with me in a store!

There was a period of time there, where I actually began to question S’s diagnosis. He seemed so typical. Things were so easy. We had lazy mornings and conversations. Could he have grown out of autism? It was like his symptoms just totally disappeared. Most shockingly… he sang. For the first time, ever, I hear my almost 3 year old sing. It was an amazing moment!

But of course, as the week ended, many of his autistic behaviors resurfaced; though, to a much lesser degree. And while S still very much has autism, he has in many ways matured that week. It is certainly a week that I will remember and cherish forever. And now, now I am not dreading his 3 week break this summer. Hesitant… but not dreading.