Sometimes when I’ve worked too late and have trouble unwinding I play a game of Solitaire on my iPhone to relax my brain. I’ve no idea why it relaxes me but it does.
And for some reason in the very early hours last week as I was playing solitaire I started thinking about how similar it was to being an Autism Mum.
For starters, when I was little, my family called this game “patience”. Well, need I say more … if there’s anything I’ve had to develop this past 9 years it has been bucketloads more patience!!
Then there’s the fact that you are pretty much in this game on your own. Just like solitaire when it’s you against the cards, here you are in this parallel universe called Autism. Except nobody else has the same situation as you and nobody has the same child as you. So although you have been dealt the same deck of cards, your hand looks different to the next Mum who comes along, so you really can’t replicate anybody’s strategy to win this game.
You get dealt a hand and it’s looking good. You get a good run on things, you’re able to match up a whole lot. You’ve got a strategy to move this to there and open up a new line. . Things are looking good, like they will all work out. Then they don’t. You’re stuck. There’s no moves you can make. How many times has this happened to you? You’ve started a new treatment, the thing that cured all those other kids you read about. You get great improvements, you think this is it, you’ve hit the jackpot. Then BAM. Everything goes pear shaped and you are back to square one and have to concede you’ve lost this game and shape up to be dealt a new set of cards. So you shuffle the pack and pick yourself up and start the game again.
And then there could be the worst of all. The move that has been sitting there under your nose all along that you never noticed. The card that had you played a few moves back would have won you the game. That’s the card I hate the most. The one that was right in front of you all along that you were too distracted to notice. That strategy that you talked about with the therapist but forgot to use in the heat of the meltdown. That supplement you have in the cupboard that you hadn’t introduced yet because life has been so busy.
As Forrest Gump told us years ago, life is like a box of chocolates, you just don’t know what you’re going to get next. And Autism is like a game of patience – of strategy and luck and the reslience to pack it all in, shuffle it up and start the game on your own all over again.