By Rob Papazian
With things being cancelled left and right, people will have their routines thrown out of order, and for an neurotypical person, their reaction is “Well this sucks, but I’ll get over it.” An atypical autistic person is more like “Wait, what? Why cant I do that anymore? I need to do that, or else I cant function.”
With all of this stuff going on, it’s going to be a tough time for everybody, but from experience, I will tell you that families that have kids with autism are going to have an even harder time than they already would. People with autism have routines, and when they are told that they have to break from that routine, they breakdown.
I can remember that I broke down crying in a mechanic shop when I was 10 because I couldn’t watch NESN Sport Desk one day. I’m talking a big meltdown. Watching that was my routine, I NEEDED to watch it, otherwise my day was ruined. Something like that is small and insignificant to everyone else, but to someone with autism that will throw off their entire day, maybe even week. If what is happening right now in the sports world with all the games being cancelled had happened when I was younger, I can’t imagine what I would have done. My mother would have gone crazy.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you know someone who has autism, or their kids have autism, reach out to them and let them know they can talk to you, reassure them that things are going to get better, and that this isn’t going to be forever. That the routine will come back.
Rob is our newest Advisory Council Member, he grew up attending camp every summer with his brother Dan and parents, Peggy & Steve Papazain. The Papazians were active members at the Center, when their sons were young, walking every April, Steve volunteered on the Golf Committee for several years and Dan was a sibshop participant. Rob found his niche as a baseball umpire at a young age which led him to a sports related career.