Easter Expectations

I read a blog posting on the Autism Speaks website called “Easter on the Spectrum.” In the blog, the author talks about adjusting her own expectations of what “should” happen on a particular holiday. She has had five years in which to learn to adjust. I’m still fresh to that learning curve.

For example, a few days ago, I saw an ad for a community Easter egg hunt. For a moment I thought, “I should take Philip.” Then I tried to imagine it in my head. What would other kids think of a parent escorting her child everywhere? What about the other parents? And what would Philip make of the crowds and activity? Does he know what it means to hunt an egg? Would he throw any he found? Would he put them back where he thinks they belong? Would he gather them in a pile and then arrange them in a line? Would he even enjoy it? I decided this was not something we “should” do.

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This past Christmas was our first holiday that we really made our plans around Philip and his, at the time, probable diagnosis. Even though it took Peter a while to accept that Philip was not just a late-bloomer, early on he was advocating making Philip’s needs a priority when it came to the holidays and other family events. Family get-togethers have been such a tradition on my side of the family that I let guilt get in the way of what was best for Philip. But by Christmas I knew that Peter had been right all along. We scheduled our day around the routines that we were trying to create for him.

It turned out that I didn’t need to feel guilty; I just needed to ask. I should have known that my brother and his family would be accommodating. After Philip’s two-year wellness check when the pediatrician first hinted that I should be concerned, my sister-in-law was one of the first people who I called. When I told her that the doctor had alluded to autism, my sister-in-law said that she had suspected as much for a while. An acquaintance of hers also has a child with autism, so she had noticed some similar behaviors. When Philip was officially diagnosed over a year later, she was not surprised.

Using a fork (!) to eat ham

So, no one complained when Philip began eating before everyone else. Everyone cheered when he found one of the Easter eggs that my niece had hidden. My family understood why we left mid-afternoon-to take Philip home for a nap, to remove the distractions and stimulations of the houseful of people. I believe they were appreciative that we returned after nap to spend some more time together.

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Even though I quickly realized that a public Easter egg hunt was not the best idea, I did feel like Philip should hunt eggs. He is so observant at times, even when it might seem like he isn’t looking. I knew that he would notice the presence of colored plastic eggs.

I thought that Philip was tired after lunch, so we put him into bed at my parents’ house. Almost an hour later, he was not only not sleeping, he was standing in the crib making noise. Peter got him out of bed, but not until my youngest niece had hidden a dozen eggs throughout the living room and the dining room. As soon as Philip came down the hallway, he spotted the first egg. He picked it up and opened it before I could stop him. Candy spilled onto the floor (and a few pieces may have fell down the vent into the basement). I convinced him to put most of the candy back in the egg and then showed him how to put the egg into a bowl.

We then let him move around the living room. One by one, he found the eggs. I had to steer him to certain parts of the room, but he quickly caught on to the fact that there were eggs around. He wanted to open them right away, but I told him to put each one in the bowl, and he did. Finally, when he had found all but one and could stand it no more, he went to his high chair so that he could finally eat some of the candy.

The first thing that he did was separate the jelly beans from the M & M’s. Once they were in their own piles, he handed me all of the jelly beans. I put these back in the egg from which they came.

The next thing that he did was to sort the M & M’s by color. He then proceeded to eat one color at a time.

It was better than I expected.

8 thoughts on “Easter Expectations

  1. All our kids are different but I will say that my son was a lot like yours up until this year. He’s still only 4 now but this past Christmas, his birthday, Easter, even todays trip to the zoo have all been SO different than in previous attempts. He really seems to get it now and has loved and participated in all those occasions and the traditions that go along with them. Philip may get to enjoy a community Easter egg hunt eventually. I wouldn’t give up on that dream. But even if he’s not able to, your family will make new traditions that are just fine and that will make him just as happy. 🙂

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    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I know what you mean about how our children can grow and change-just like any “typical” child. This was the first time that Philip was able to hunt eggs at home on his own. I figure that is the first step in preparing Philip to participate in such activities with his peers.

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  2. I love that he had his Easter Egg hunt 🙂 For us every year its been different. I remember last year we went to a farm for an Easter Egg hunt in a barn and they put plastic eggs under the hay and the little ones had to take a little baskets and hunt for eggs. Well my sensory boy found out very quickly that it was more fun to sit in the hay, run his hands through it and then toss it up in the air. We were frustrated at first wanting him to look for eggs until we took a look at his face…pure glee and so we adjusted our expectations. This year same farm but different outcome. He enjoyed the feel of the hay but quickly got down to business collecting his eggs but using some hay to cushion his eggs and then take them to the Easter bunny for his reward of chocolate eggs….:)

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