Hurricane Jeffries - Adapt or DIe
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Adapt or Die
(You have to adjust or we are gonna leave ya in the dust)

UUUGgghhhh!! I have spent the last week and a half arguing with my husband over nothing. Everyone tells me it is just a man thing but shouldn't they have to adjust like everyone else does?

My husband was out of a job for 10months almost. He worked here and there as a PRN at a local hospital that eventually hired him on in a 3 shift position. The shift is great for our family right now. Three 12hour shifts. This schedule allows him to have a 3 or 4 day weekend every other weekend. Great right??!! 

I think it is great. I have been waiting for 10 years to start being able to do the kinds of things that I enjoy. I am an outside nature therapy kind of girl. I have worked at a ski resort “Purgatory” and lived in the little local town Durango, Colorado. I have been a wrangler for Yellow Stone Outfitter company taking people up into the back country of the Tetons on week long camping, hunting and or fishing trips. I almost ripped my arm off in a Snowmobiling accident in Idaho. (I ended up breaking in in half by the elbow and had to have 2 surgeries to fix it.  I have been all over Utah,Wyoming, Colorado and sooo many other places. The I have been up into Denali National Park in Alaska to go Dog Sledding and snowboarding at Alieska Ski Resort. (Airabella's middle name is even McKinley for mount McKinley up in Alaska.) I have been to way too many beaches to count. And So much more in my life you would be amazed. Most of this was done on my own from ages 18 to 25.

All of this “Nature Therapy has spawned a love of Photography that sometimes completely took over my life. I had such a desire to share with everyone the beauty that surrounded me on my adventures. It really didn't matter if no one was paying attention, I loved documenting my life and what I was doing and going through. I loved to play with the sunlight filtering around things, places and activities that I love. It makes everything seem so ALIVE, even when you are completely alone. I wanted to capture the silence of it all.
 
 Just me and my Kiaya, my search and rescue dog who was NEVER away from my side til she had to be put down last summer after 14 years of companionship because of sinus cancer. I really don't know what to do without her. I had her fron 5 weeks old and we were never apart at all possible.  She was truly my very best friend and I haven't had the same since. She literally saved my life twice. Once from a bear in the woods and another time when someone broke into my house.  long stories for another article. 

SO the point of all this is to explain that when I got married 10 years ago I had a plan. I think we all have a plan but honestly how often does ANYTHING in life turn out the way we planned. What is the saying....”Life is what happens when you are making other plans.” Well, our life ended up being 3Autistic boys and a little girl with NO speech at almost 2 years old. And a husband that is completely unable to adapt to any change in the “PLAN”, ever!! And I am not over exaggerating. My plan had to be altered.

He has really struggled with the crazy that is our family. I call it “Controlled Crazy”. I have tried really hard to adapt and always have a back up plan or a quick exit plan with my family. You really have to adapt to this if you have special needs kids or just don't want a freak out with every slight deviation from “The Plan.” There is just no other way with our fam. Brandon, my husband, really struggles with this. I wish I could help him with it but all it does when I try and help is make him shut down and be mean, really mean. It just causes soo much anxiety for him when things change and there for does the same for the kids. 

They will always feed off of the emotions of those surrounding them. That means, if you freak out,  they are gonna freak out. If you yell and scream they are gonna yell and scream. If you act like the world is ending because you can't handle what is going on around you, so will they. But on the flip side, if you can stay calm and composed acting like everything is OK, so will the kiddos. If you talk to them in a calm voice, even if they aren't listening to the words you are saying, they in turn will calm and relax thinking that you have it all under control and that they can trust you with what is going on at the time. Autistic kids truly need that, well every kid needs that. 

I have researched and found that kids don't know much of anything on instinct. The feed off of what is going on around them or what they are taught. Think about it....if you sat a toy, any toy, down in front of a 6month old and walked away, what happens? They will look down at the toy and then up atyou. They have NO idea how to play with that toy, they have never even seen that toy before. Sure they will eventually move it around and find something to do with it but they really don't know how to play with the toy in the way that it was intended or safe. They look to us, or who ever gave them the toy to let them know 1.) that it is a safe thing for them to touch. 2.) is it scary or fun? 3.) How do I do it? 

We all do the same thing with everything and situation we are in. WE don't realize that we are doing it but try paying attention the next time you encounter a new situation or thing. It could be a new store or restaurant, anything technical that we haven't been able to master or see before. This could be so many things. The point is that even though these autistic kids might have encountered the situation before it will always be something that the need to look at a peer or adult for approval for, and to answer these 3 questions.

SO, how do I personally work with this? I have made it a point that before we get out of the car I turn and tell them what I expect from them. Usually I say, “OK kids. We are here. This should be fun and exciting but remember there is NO hitting, NO pushing and NO unkind words.” then I add any specifics to the situation we are about to enter. 

For example, we went to the Zoo last Saturday. I said the first part but added, “Now these are animals that get scared when we are loud and move quickly in front of them. So lets try really hard to work on those things while we are in front of their cages.” Then I added, “This should be lots of fun if we can see lots of animals don't ya think?” that puts it back on them, they have to make the choice of weather or not they want to seethe animals by not scaring them away. I also make sure to let them know that I know it is hard to control our mouths and bodies but I am confident that they can do it and we can see all the animals. 

One last note about this, I also know that as Autistic kids they often times NEED to make noises and gestures that are part of the definition of Autism. So I try to let them know when it is appropriate to do these things. After all, we are trying to teach these kids to function in society in the “ACCEPTED” ways. That can be confusing but I hope you can understand what I am saying. 

So in this situation at the zoo I would follow up once we are at the door with a reminder of all they were told before they get out of the car and add, “if you need to make noises and quick movements lets try doing them in between the animals, while we are walking, so we don't scare anyone.” that makes sense to them. It lets them know that I recognize that theses noises and gestures HELP them feel comfortable in their own skin and surroundings, and that they are not doing it to get attention or to disobey. It also tells them that in most situations there is a cause and effect to our actions so they have the choice to make. Be slow and quiet in front of the animals or don't get to see any animals. Pretty simple if you explain it to them in this way. We got to see MOST of the animals even if we were the craziest looking bunch of wierdos there. ( I know the pic is side ways, sorry.  it was one that I had to include.  working on it!  this is how we usually look, like a bunch of goof balls, but what ever works.)
 
And as a side note, I NEVER go anywhere when I know for a fact that there will be a crowd.  We always try and go when we know there will be less people if at all possible.  That way you take the whole over stimulation by the crowd thing out of the equation.  We go at off times for everywhere and go even when it looks like it's gonna rain but we know it will only drizzle and then be clear.  After all, a bit of rain never made anyone melt as far as I know and the tons of sanity it gives to go when less people are there is totally worth the wet.

To apply this to say the grocery store. I let them know that I expect quiet voices and soft hands. If we can't do that then we don't get to get the things that we need. I am constantly trying to teach them that they and everyone out in the world are having to constantly make choices. It is not often that things happen TO us. WE make the choices and the result of those constant choices shapes their day and life.

Back to my husband, because of his unemployment I have had to do what it takes to make ends meet. That means working for my dad or brother when ever they need extra help with their businesses. (My father doesn't believe in “Hand Outs”  he believes that we can learn from every trial and if he comes into save the day every time we need help that we will never progress in this life. So nothing is free out there so work for what you get. No free money. Agree with it or not, it is what it is.) Selling things we no longer use to consignment stores. (this takes sooo long, don't do it with kid with you. You are setting the stage for failure.) Getting the things we are in desperate need of at 2 hand stores and such. I feel He seems to only see the inconvenience to HIM. Weather it be him taking care of the kids for a few hours or him changing his plan he just gets angry and mean. That's not fair to the rest of us. 

We don't cater to any one individual in our family. I do however try to set us up for success with all that we do. We have made it with these adjustments. The problem is that Brandon seems to never see all the work, and it is work, that it takes to run this family and get the things that we need when there is little to no income. 

Luckily our church stresses the need to have at the very least 3 months of food on hand with the max of one years worth of food. (non perishable obviously) We have made it to the other end of the no job journey that we have been on. He started he new shift this week. And it will take awhile to get used to it but life is evening out. That is a true blessing for sure. 

Any way. My husband has a really bad habit, and yes I know I have many of my own, but he loves to just bicker and stay in a bad mood just for the fun of it. I swear that most of the time he doesn't even know why he is upset or angry. And when I confront him by saying, “Do you even know why you are angry?” it stops him dead in his tracks. He really doesn't know why he is angry. He just wants to be upset. But you know what? I don't have to be around it. I have started just walking away and taking the kids away from it and having fun with out him. And more often then not he is the only one upset and we end up having tons of  fun with out him.

Oh well, his lose. So what do youthink....is it a man thing to just be angry and stay angry for no apparent reason or silly little insignificant reasons or am I being unreasonable? Comments please. I would love to know some other opinions on this matter. Does this happen in your relationship? Is it just a man thing? Men, are we being unreasonable and should we just let you stay in the bad mood and walk away? I have heard this exact same issue from so many sources. What is your opinion?
 
PS: my poor husband just read this and said, "man, anyone that reads this is gonna think I am totally the worst." 
 
Just to be clear, he is not the worst, and he tries really hard to be a good dad.  His kids love him more than I could ever say and so do I.  We are just at a place in our lives with summer and all 4 kids home in 3 days, where he has to "Adapt or Die".  He is a great guy and we all love him very much but like all of us he has stuff to work on as do I.  I guess I will have to bash on myself for a bit next time. Ha!














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