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TIP: Dealing with Disrupted Plans

June 22, 2012


Autism Resource Mom has had her ARMs wrapped around some personal business over the last few weeks. But she’s back now and rarin’ to go. Sorry for any inconvenience caused during her absence.

Dealing with Disrupted Plans

We’ve all had to be flexible. No matter how hard we try to prepare every last detail, there are things out of our control that can upset our arrangement. What do we do then? You or your child is ready to lose it. How do we “talk them down”?


Disruptions are hiccups in our daily lives.

One approach that has worked for us is what I call the Delayed-Reaction Plan: Let’s say, for example, that we were traveling and missed our connecting flight. Trust me, I know this doesn’t go over big with our kids. Been there, done that. But I offer this explanation to my panicked son:

          We were going to wait 15 minutes and then board the plane to go home. We will still do that, it’ll just be a bit later. Now, we have some extra time, so we’ll go have dinner, walk around, visit the restrooms and then we’ll come back to this gate, wait 15 minutes and board the plane to go home. It’s important to show that the same procedure will occur, but a few steps have been added in between; there’s a delayed reaction.

And when your child learns to go along with this, heap on the praise for his flexibility! We really lucked out a few years ago when this happened to us. We had to be put up for the night in a hotel, which was unsettling for our son because he hadn’t figured on it. Anyway, he was tolerating the change. When we finally boarded our plane the next morning, he spotted his favorite villain from James Bond films on board – actor Robert Davi. He could hardly stay in his seat the whole flight from Newark to L.A. At baggage claim he was jumping out of his skin—but he wouldn’t dare go speak to him, so I went over to the movie tough guy and told him my son was a fan. “Where is he?” he asked. I explained that he’s quite shy and he said, “So am I. Where’s your son?” I motioned to my shy one to come over and he did! They shook hands, exchanged a few shy words, posed for a few photos and, well, it made his day.

What did my son take away from that whole experience? “I’m so glad we missed our connection!” I know we got lucky. Wishing you missed connections and fun successes like ours!