Over the years we have tried a variety of therapy programs with varying success. Some programs become part of our daily life and others we move on from. And sometimes you discover you have what you need right in front of you. Which is what happened when one of the kids announced he had the formula for “The Best Day Ever!”
He had internalized many of the social therapy ideas and put them together in a way that made sense to him. As a preschooler we made a sensory tool kit to carry with us everywhere so he could react to his environment. Later we added tools to help him understand his own emotions and process them in appropriate ways. As we approach the pre-teen years we have added more social understanding and flexible thinking. He has become more invested in learning so he can participate in activities of his choosing independent of support. Ultimately, the best therapy programs are the one that stick for you and your family.
What I love about this formula is that he made it and he understands the four concepts it includes. There was a time in his life when his rigidity and perfectionism were causing real problems. Literally every day he would start with the hope that today would be perfect. The way this worked out in practice was that every time any small thing was unexpected or unwanted, he would explode with frustration because his hoped-for “perfect day” was ruined, and he would exclaim, “why can’t I ever have a ‘best day ever!?'”
We tried reasoning with him and explaining, but nothing worked until he came up with this formula on his own. It’s a peek into his mind and how his understanding of the world is growing. I love seeing small insights into the unique way his brain works and the connections it makes. He sat down with me to explain his formula to you, so your family can also have a “Best Day Ever”
Flexibility + Positivity +Patience + Self Control = Best Day EverC. Heren
Flexibility– being able to continue when plans change.
In our family Autism shows up as rigidity when unexpected changes happen. Lately we have had many situations when plans have to change quickly. Being a larger family means we often have do what is best for someone else which requires being flexible in this situation, with the understanding that later they will be flexible in our favor. Flexibility is a life skill many people take for granted. It is important for success at life, but requires a conscious and difficult mental effort for many autistic children or adults.
Positivity- staying optimistic.
It’s easy to feel anxious and think the worst of situations and changes when they surprise us, but keeping a positive attitude can make all the difference. Being able to see a small good part of a situation is important. It was frustrating when the car broke down on the side of the road on a recent road trip. But we are thankful that an uncle was available and could come rescue us in his truck. We weren’t planning to see that uncle, so it was bonus to the trip that was otherwise very different than what we expected.
Patience– being able to wait for things.
It’s easy to want things to happen now. Understanding all the steps that have to happen ahead of your turn can be hard for an autistic person. We added this to the formula when we went on a recent trip. We went on a a cruise and there were many times when waiting was out of our control and we had to be patient. In our case the cruise ship was delayed several hours due to weather, and this made the boarding process very different than we anticipated. However, being prepared to be patient made all the difference as we waited our turn to board. In this case, the reward was being the first to swim in the pool on the boat.
Life has all kinds of moments where things that have to be done are dependent on other people. We have to be patient and wait for our turn even when it’s hard. Sometimes we can be prepared to be patient by bringing something to do while we wait, while other times we aren’t prepared, but still have to be willing to wait.
Self-Control– controlling your impulses.
There are many disabilities or learning challenges that may include challenge with impulse control. Ultimately we want to teach our kids as much as possible that they are responsible for their own choices and behavior. Impulsive behavior can be common but when we look around and use our social detective eyes we can see how others are behaving and have clues as to what we should do.
Recently one of our children got frustrated with a Lego piece that wouldn’t go together the way he wanted. So he threw it in frustration. What he didn’t expect, was that it ended up flying into a crack behind some mortared rocks in our fireplace. He was afraid that it was gone forever. When my husband was able to maneuver it back out through the crack the next day, he identified that this had taught him to have better self-control when he was frustrated in the future.
He approved the design of the printable pack below that we made to share his formula with you. In the download you will find coloring sheets, posters and a blank version for you to decorate how ever you wish. There are 3 different posters you can put on the wall as a reminder and 2 coloring pages.
The best therapy strategies are the ones which empower and grow the participant: ones that the participant can then apply outside of the clinical office and use in everyday life. That is exactly what we have seen in our family with these 4 words. They represent some pretty big and mature ideas. But because he made this formula himself, he identifies with it, and it continues to guide us as daily reminders of what it takes to be successful.
We would love to see what you do with “Best Day Ever!” formula! Share it on social media and tag us or use the hashtag: #insideournormal