Even if you had never heard of such a thing before, I’m sure you can identify with what it is. A comfortable rut is a period of your life where things are just easier to keep doing them as you did the day before, rather than make a disturbance that would be deemed uncomfortable even if it means moving forward.
The most popular of these would be diets, or lack of exercise… or both. Basically you get into the habit of eating the foods you like, you can’t find the time to exercise and eventually it’s just easier to just gain weight even though you don’t want to.
In the case of parenting a child with Autism, it’s a very very easy rut to settle into.
What happens is that you try various diets, various programs, therapies, routines and everything else until eventually something seems to work… something starts to show results and in a little while, it becomes comfortable.
And a few months later you start to realize that your child has been eating the same 4 things every day because it’s just easier than fighting or dealing with the issues that come from not eating. You just start getting used to sleeping at certain times and not sleeping at others. You start dressing your child in the same 3 or 4 outfits (if you’re lucky) because it’s less of a fight to put it on them.
A comfortable rut is exactly what your child with Autism is looking for. We can’t confuse this with a routine. A comfortable rut is what your Autistic child wants, a routine is what they need.
What is the difference between a routine and a comfortable rut?
Well, a comfortable rut sees no progress. There’s no moving forward. For example, instead of trying new foods or dietary supplements or pushing your child to break boundaries, you just keep feeding them the same old thing.
A routine involves doing the same things at the same time but can still be a push forward. For example, when eating with Cameron, we eat at the same time, and he generally eats the same meals but, each day we get him to try something new. Even if it’s just a bite or just a nibble, he tries it. Some things he’s liked, such as combining his cheese and gluten free crackers. Others, like fish… he did not like.
That’s progress while still being in the same routine.
Cameron would prefer to wear the same two Super Mario shirts every day for ever if we let him, which would make for a comfortable rut indeed. Instead, we dress him similar yet different shirts… nothing that will irritate his sensory sensitive skin too much but something that will be less than the most comfortable thing he could wear.
You’ve all heard the motivation speeches, the leaders talk and the get rich guys go on and on… push your personal boundaries if you wish to become more than you are! Well, why wouldn’t it be the same with your kids, especially if Autistic?
If you want your child to get out into the world and be independent, whether your child is very severe on the spectrum or very high, you must push their boundaries if they won’t do it for themselves.
I know, it’s really easier said than done in most cases but I never said it would be easy.
I’m not going to get into the specifics of it or anything because your doctors/therapists will likely be able to help you more than I could if they’ve worked with you before. Moving forward doesn’t mean you stop what you’re doing now, it doesn’t mean breaking from routine… it just means getting out of that comfortable rut and doing it!