A Day in the Life with Shirley Green 

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As parents, teachers and family members of children who are autistic, we know that no two days are the same. But most importantly, we must be diligent in our approach to managing and learning techniques EVERY DAY that will limit our frustrations and help us have positive interactions and responses. In essence, if just one person is contributing, that child will fail. Raising an autistic child is truly a family affair. In our first edition of A Day in the Life, Shirley Green depicts a normal Saturday as a grandmother with autistic children. 

“It is Saturday morning, no school today," I shouted. My granddaughter Leia repeated that statement. At 6-years old, the comprehension of no school is understood. I said, "Okay Leia what do you want for breakfast?  In a low voice I heard, “Okay, breakfast.” I knew what that meant, so I started the process of elimination. I asked if she wanted cereal. Then I asked if she wanted eggs and no was the answer to both questions. Then I heard her shout, “want rice”. Alright Leia I responded. Only the family knows that rice stands for grits. A regular breakfast food in the south. So now I can begin cooking breakfast.

Two o’clock p.m. comes around and Leia is whinny, fussing and she doesn’t quite know what she want.  So far it has been calm around the house. This is a sure indicator that she wants to get out the house. 

“Ok, let's go to the playground”, I said. Leia murmured “car”. “No Leia, let's walk,” I told her. Well that created some jumping due to frustration. “No walk," Leia screamed. I ignored her comments and gathered some bottles of water, a few snacks and a book. Then I headed for the door. She quickly follows and continues fussing half way to the park. She has her big sister who’s seven and her little cousin that’s four to join in the excursion.

The park is located about one block from the house. As we entered the park gates they run to the playground, each one of them finding their favorite obstacle to climb. Leia went straight for the slides. Several kids were around but Leia did not mind the company. She ran with them. She jumped up and down and when I looked up to see what she was doing, the other children were chasing her around. This was a delight for her because she is always trying to get someone to chase her, including me. An hour of fun at the playground made a calming difference. As we walked back to the house there were no shouts of protest. I really can appreciate the playground. It’s a place where a child can calm themselves through exercise, social play and free discovery, especially a six-year child with autism. 

Shirley Green (M.Ed) is a retired Special Education teacher but continues to work in the field with her autistic grandchild. Her Day in the Life pieces are meant to serve as a self-help guide to help navigate your way through everyday life with the autistic student or child in your life. 

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