When we stop at the donut shop the boy prefers to get a sugar-raised donut and a carton of milk.
At home, at school, everywhere he goes, the boy prefers one thing or another, typically the thing that is the same as the last time, or that one time, or every other time before.
Repetition, familiarity, predictability, sameness, all create a zone of safety for an individual on the spectrum.
They also create ruts. Walls separating the individual from growth.
It is the role (some might say responsibility) of an ASD individual’s loved ones to disrupt the routines from time to time. To create moments of tiny chaos, that challenge them to tune into their surroundings.
Like when Grandpa asked him to share some of his donut.
Sometimes these disruptions can trigger the shouting. (Again, with the shouting.)
But sometimes, when introduced by someone close, the chaos can be created within a safety zone of its own. And the response can be confusion, instead of anger. An opportunity for a moment of give and take.
“What did you say?”
“I asked if I could have some of your donut.”
Sometimes the boy will assert himself, and state a desire to stick to his routine.
“Well, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but… you can get your own donut.”
Acknowledging another person might not like his answer.
That is not a part of his routine.
When someone tells you their child is autistic, don’t tell them that you’re sorry.
Ask “What’s s/he like?”
Let the parent say “brilliant” or “funny” or “kind of a challenge these days.”
Ask “Does s/he have a special interest?”
Let the parent say “trains” or “baseball” or “elevators.”
There is a reason it’s called a spectrum (and not a continuum from “better” to “worse”).
Every spectrum kid is different. Like any other kid is different.
Like any other kid, some days.