He Runs through the living room, jumps on the couch, straightens a stack of favorite DVDs, runs into the kitchen, slides across the kitchen floor, opens and closes the refrigerator door, runs back through living room, jumps on the couch, straightens a stack of favorite DVDs, runs into the kitchen, slides across the kitchen floor, opens and closes the refrigerator door, runs back through living room, jumps on the couch, straightens a …. well you get the idea. And so it goes hundreds of times per day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Flooring needs to be replaced, refrigerator doors rehung, DVDs go unwatched but we keep replacing the cases. This is a day in the life of a child with autism, different kids, different routines.
In a review on Fandango, they say, “In the movie, Groundhog Day (1993) starring, Bill Murray plays Phil, a weatherman, who is out to cover the annual emergence of the groundhog from its hole. He gets caught in a blizzard that he didn’t predict and finds himself trapped in a time warp. He is doomed to relive the same day over and over.”
“Doomed” they say. Well we live the same day over and over because we have found a rhythm…peace at any price…but time doesn’t stand still like it does in the movie. Our kids with autism get older. They turn into adults who need routine, structure, a rhythm throughout their day. But one step further, they need purpose.
Routines, Routines, Routines. The need for sameness is essential, yet we worry if they will mature and develop if they keep doing the same thing. One child is known for picking up leaves every single time he goes outside. He MUST gather a leave and carry it until it crumbles.
I’m told I’m one of the lucky ones because my son speaks. Let me say this clearly, I am not complaining. I am blessed and lucky. My son can recite every single word from the movie, Toy Story, verbatim. He will also say the same phrases, a select few redneck jokes, or impersonations over and over and over, perhaps 20 times each before moving on to the next one. Each time he says it he gets louder and louder to the point where he can be heard down the street from our house! Call it ‘lucky’. This has gone on since he first learned to put a complete sentence together.
However, I think this is all in the cosmic lining of planets Ironically, the movie Groundhog Day was released in the year my son was born, we moved into our first home on Groundhog Day, we are told that Bill Murray is on the spectrum and he stars are FDR, whom I share a hometown with. Sometimes, I just as soon not have the planets in line.
Bottom line: Let’s not them get into a rut. After all, we could be ‘doomed’.