TWO weeks ago today, I tried an experiment with Camryn.
***During week one, she was home full time and week two was the start of Extended School Year. She leaves our house Monday- Friday at 8am to go to the Variety Club and doesn’t come home until after 4:00.
With Brynlee, Aubrey and Courtney on board, I hid all television remotes and technology in our house with the hopes of promoting a more inclusive home environment and reverse some of Camryn’s habits that have been created.
Unlike a lot of children with Autism, she does not need an iPad to communicate. Simply stated, tv and devices cause self stimulatory behaviors and give Camryn the opportunity to “remove” herself from the social demands of our house as she engrosses herself into her own comfortable world.
Unsupervised, she watches a glimpse of a show and then switches to something else. On the iPad, she’ll look at a book for a minute and then switch to ABC Mouse. When I allow her to control the remote, I seriously feel motion sickness. She flips through Amazon Video like a Black Friday shopper ransacks shelves. I always think of her brain and compare it to a remote control. Like a remote control, she is constantly switching channels.
She asked for it a thousand times A. DAY. She continues to ask for it, but typically does not get upset when I redirect her to something else. Overall, she has shown a significant decrease in tantruming.
My relationship with Camryn has evolved. It is what life was like before handing her a device as a reward, a means to happiness, or a way to pacify became the norm.
I give her the uninterrupted me. I play with her. I swim with her. I read countless books with her. We look at old pictures. We walk around stores and buy… nothing. SHE NEVER WANTS TO BUY ANYTHING. I “act out” her Muppets. I make her LOTS of snacks. We go to playgrounds. I listen to music and dance with her. We play with lots of play dough and slime. We walk the dog.
We have some tough moments, but we are doing it. She gets home from ESY during the week and doesn’t even ask for a device or tv. This is HUGE.
Here are some highlights in pictures:
HAPPY AT THE PLAYGROUND
PLAYING IN THE BASEMENT WITH AUBREY
HANGING AT JRNY FEST
iPads come in handy for children with Autism especially when the grass is being cut or a thunderstorm is in the forecast. Also, children with Autism either enjoy other activities AND technology OR technology. We truly have the latter going on here, but we are fighting through it.
She has awesome sisters. They are kind and patient towards Camryn and extend grace in moments where she doesn’t “deserve” it. She has a habit of gently pushing the two little ones at times when she gets frustrated and they happen to be near her.
Other kids and my nephew were here at times during Week One. That was the toughest week because there was a lot going on here and she wanted to escape from the chaos. They loved to help though and were all about trying to include Camryn.
She has become quite accustomed to using a device on the toilet. This is a huge barrier. She will not go to the bathroom. I sit in the bathroom and read books with her and we are not having any success. This is problematic, but I will figure this out.
We already knew this, but… We love hanging out with her. She is SO funny. She has no filter and has excellent timing or horrible timing depending on what she is saying. She “hung out” with the adults at a party on Saturday and fit in perfectly. She laughed at all the appropriate times and had her own opinions to add that made everyone laugh.
We were reminded that she loves people and people love her. Some of the many people who love her helped with my endeavor and helped to get her out of the house.
- She went to VBS at Spring Valley Church and my friend arranged for an amazing person to be by her side to assist her during the program.
- My mom took her shopping for a couple of hours to get her out of the house.
- My friend took her to her house for a change of scenery. Another day, she took the other girls so my house could be a little quieter for Camryn.
My girls can’t wait to tell me every accomplishment they notice with her. The joy they get from seeing Camryn succeed is beyond compare.
I dislike kids and technology. ***I actually already knew this.
I dislike adults and technology too. ***I actually already knew this.
Camryn is permitted now to watch a movie with her sisters, look at a video about Disney or other Amusement Parks with me on my iPad, or read a book with me on the iPad. The overall goal for now is that these breaks are spent with someone, not alone on the couch as our world is rotating around her.
On the day of her dental surgery, she watched a 30 minute show of her choice. She chose Blippi and I was reminded why I was doing this. If you have a minute, tune in and you too will understand.
Autism stinks, but the future is full of possibilities. In two weeks, I am beginning to remove the crutch that is forcing her more into her own world than building a bridge to make her feel comfortable in the world where she belongs and is so wanted. Jesus has so much in store for this sweet girl. She showed some amazing growth over the past two weeks.
If Camryn can do it, my other girls can too. She is “only” on ABC Mouse, Reading Rainbow, PBS Kids and Apps that fit into that very juvenile category.
In the future, the other girls will want phones, tablets, Netflix, video games and unbeknownst to me a very mature world will be at their fingertips. A mature world that will give them the opportunity to ALSO enter a different world- Only this world is filled with popularity, bullying, and just plain old growing up too fast. A world that no matter how savvy we think we are, they are savvier.
I am going to unplug for as long as I can and not give into what is popular. Popularity is fleeting anyway. I always tell them I am so much more fun than any device out there as they simultaneously laugh and say, “You are not!”
Tonight we visited my parents with my sister, nephew and brother. Camryn was sassy and filterless and FUNNY! She made everyone smile. She used the nicknames she has for all of us, critiqued the things we did or said, imitated the requests we made in a sarcastic tone, played UNO and never even mentioned a device.
On the way home, she sat in the front seat and when I opened the sunroof, she had her hand in the air as the song “Fight Song” blared through the speakers. Typically, she hates the windows down, so we all couldn’t believe it. As I listened to the girls belting out the lyrics, I couldn’t help but think of her life. The words reminded me that it is never too late. We have to keep fighting and never give up on our mission for Camryn.
I can’t reverse Camryn’s diagnosis. All I can do is guide her in striving to be the best version of herself. I believe that having a child with Autism makes your heart constantly overflow. I have such joy knowing that with hard work, we will continue to look at Austim for what it is. A huge umbrella; an umbrella that doesn’t symbolize rain or despair. It is a durable umbrella that I reliably hold wide open for Camryn to offer protection. Yes, there are things that can destroy this umbrella, but I will stand stronger. Maybe one day, the rain will lessen and I will find myself proudly alone holding the umbrella, but always closely waiting incase I am needed to support her underneath.
If you like what you are reading share on Facebook, Twitter or email and subscribe. I am going to blog our summer and share how I am keeping them off screens if you want to follow along and maybe even try it too! Support Cam and unplug your kids with me. I would love to hear your stories! Are you in?