Sofia’s school life was not quite what she was hoping for or expecting, in effect it is falling apart for her, and to make things worse, she can’t crawl into a hole and pretend it doesn’t exist, instead she will be thrust into thick of adventure travel and asked to deal with reality every single day for the next seven weeks. As if adjusting to the road is not tough enough, she will be mourning the loss of her reality and having to find a new one.
This is undoubtably a difficult beginning to an adventure and helping her to transform her sense of misery to one of open awe and excitement is not going to be easy. I do believe it will be possible though, with the therapy of constant movement, being outside all the time, and the safe head space of the helmet.
It would be nice to be able to just focus on my own present moment and model it as originally intended. Give her the space to deal with her own issues. As a strategy I will certainly try but Sofia is more like a tired toddler when she is in this state. She needs to fight and push against someone, and that someone is me. Ignoring it will only increase her feelings of abandonment and want to push harder. Trying to comfort her will not satisfy her either.
I have to keep myself open and available to her until she has a melt down like a thunder storm that clears the pent up static in the air. Naturally I will try to head it off but I will be on egg shells (whilst trying to appear not to be) until the sun has broken through the dark clouds in her mind. Along with the strategies below, I will also be using Byron Katie’s method ‘The Work’ to help Sofia to let go of negativity she is holding onto for as long as the method works for her.
- Sofia ‘needs’ to say things and ‘needs’ to be heard. Instead of letting her control that, I will limit her as to how much ‘complaining’ she can do. For every complaint my consistent words of wisdom will be ‘ when desire and outcome are at opposites, it means that there is something wrong in how you are approaching life and you need to change it.’ (she will likely hate me for this, but if it stops her from focusing on her complaints, and focusing on solutions instead then I’m good)
- Sofia is going to, on the most part unknowingly in the social awareness sense, say things that are really off because she is in a negative frame of mind. In effect, spilling all the stuff in her head out into the open which should be kept locked up. I will likely get literal and assign certain times for talking as she needs to learn to focus more on the quality of communication that she is giving and keep those private thoughts private. This is a concept she has no grasp of despite being told (she is completely blind to it at this time) , so I will be leading her by the hand to learn to do it without telling her what she is learning to do so she can’t resist it.
- Each morning I will encourage her to state what she would like to happen that day and each evening to review the day and say what she would like different or more of, then spend a moment being glad to have certain things that support her experience. This is likely to start in a very small way focusing on only a small part of her daily life, but the goal is to expand it to incorporate the entire day after a few weeks.
- Encourage her to take photographs. The initial reason is that it gives her the lense to view the world which she might not look at or see otherwise. She really only sees the world out the corner of her eyes so this will help/ecourage her to see it more directly – I know it will start with photos of leaves or rocks, but everntually she will start to see other things through the ‘lense’ and I hope we will see that progression in the photos through out the trip. This I hope will unltimately help her to develop her creative skills as well. (Note to self – buy lots of micro cards!)
- Encourage her to notice stategies I employ to help me reach my own present moment and to not comment if she copies me.
Sounds so easy when written in words! Add the finding of food and shelter, and thinking of safety and risk assessing in relation to just about everything, AND making sure it’s all fun, then my job description as ‘mother on the road’ will be complete 😀
Post Script: Sofia has now vocalised that she doesn’t want to go or would like to cut the trip short, that it feels too difficult to do a whole summer. I have told her that the point of the trip is for it feel as easy as possible with what we have, but if after New Foundland she is still struggling, then it won’t be a problem to head home early. In our conversation last night some information came to light that has made me deeply worried for her and makes an early return not just an appeasing statement but a real possibility. I will be deliberating over the weekend whether we should be doing this trip with the motorbike or if I should I cut it short now and make other plans.
We travel on motorbike and share our story to help raise awareness for autism and the benefits of adventure travel as a platform for learning life skills for autism.
Sofia was diagnosed with Autism when she was 4 years old. When she was 10 years old she under took her first journey in a sidecar from the UK to South Africa. Since then she has started to ride pillion on a motorbike and travelled Europe and this year goes to Eastern Canada. She is now 13 years old and the skills she is learning on this journey are related to maintaining positive mental health. This skill is the hardest of the life skills to learn, harder still in a modern world where materialism and science define life and spirituality and wisdom not because it can’t be bought or proven, it relies completely on faith.