The Different Card

As is common in many autism homes, we had PECS cards all over the place. We started using them when my son was three years old and sort of phased them out of use by the time he was ten or so. And they were a godsend. We could tell him when we were going somewhere, he could tell us what he wanted, or we could tell him what needed to be done instead. We could use them to make visual schedules so that he could anticipate what would happen when, to ease his anxiety. And one card that we used quite often was the Different Card. If the day’s plan deviated from the norm or what he was used to, we would show him the Different Card with the two arrows pointing in opposite directions (one up, one down), and he could process the change. Even in his non-verbal days, we’d show him the Different Card and sometimes he would just nod slightly in acknowledgement and then keep moving, seemingly unfazed. He knew something would be different, and he mentally prepared himself the best he could.

We’re three weeks into July. I thought by now I’d be writing about how crazy-busy I am with packing my home, downsizing a four-bedroom house into a two-bedroom apartment. I thought by now my house would be sold. I thought by now I’d know where my children, especially my teenage son with autism, would be going to school in September. I thought by now at least some of the unknowns would have revealed themselves.

But really, I had only hoped. After all, how realistic were any of my thoughts? And hope, though fervent, is still wishing. Sometimes I feel foolish, sometimes resigned, often dejected. When things aren’t going the way you’d hoped, how else should you feel?

It’s hard to keep at it, to remain hopeful. But I’m a long-time special-needs parent. My son has taught me to believe, and I am a champion of hope. It’s what I do, what I’ve done all along. My major moving plans are not going the way I’d hoped, but regardless, I know that life will work out the way it should. It always does, whether I worried or not. Whether I planned or not.

And that’s when the other thing that we do best comes into play – when things don’t turn out as we hoped they would, we adapt. We go with Plan B (or come up with one on the fly) and keep moving, because that’s what we’ve always had to do. That’s our life. And whether it feels that way or not, I think that’s actually pretty hopeful.

As for my situation, what will be, will be. It will be different than how I’d thought, but that’s okay. I know different; I can handle different. My son has trouble handling different, but we’ll get through it. I’m not sure if the Different Card will work as well this time (or if I even still have it), but he’s come a long way since his non-verbal days, and maybe he’ll just nod his head and keep moving, like he did all those years ago.

I’m hoping.

4 thoughts on “The Different Card

  1. Lex Savko

    Keep believing, Tanya. Hopefully there will be good options that will arise to adapt appropriately. We’ve had to deal with a Different Card in our lives here recently that I’ll tell you more about later. Try to stay strong and positive. You know I believe in you!

  2. Tanya Savko Post author

    Lex, I appreciate you so much. We’ll talk soon.

    Jan, that is indeed a beautiful song. Very inspiring, and just what I needed. Thank you.

  3. Macrina Lesniak

    Time to get creative! I know you can find a way to make it work! Are you able to be a landlord if selling doesn’t work? What a headache! I hope things will fall into place soon.

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