Finding Peace and Calm in a ‘Going Out’ Bag

Autism and Creature Comforts

By Megan Amodeo

We all have certain objects, sayings, foods and routines that make us feel comfortable…our creature comforts. You may enjoy a warm blanket, a pair of fuzzy slippers and a good cup of hot cocoa on a winter day. A long hot bubble bath, with no kiddos banging on the door, is a necessary creature comfort for many of us moms. Creature comforts bring to mind favorite foods. I love a cup of chili on a cold rainy day.

I’m sure we can all make a list of the things that make us feel happy and comfortable. My family goes on one vacation a year. This is due, in part, because three of the five members of my brood are on the autism spectrum.

You might be wondering what vacationing and autism have to do with creature comforts. It’s no big secret that we autistics like things the way we like them. Meaning, we want our creature comforts available all the time. We want the same routines, the same foods and the same blanket or pillow or bed and so on. So traveling anywhere more than fifteen minutes from our homes can become a nightmare none of us wants to experience.

What do we do to help those of us on the spectrum feel comfortable outside of the house? We bring our creature comforts with us. It’s not always an easy task. My youngest daughter is the ultimate example of a person who continually wants to be surrounded by her special things. She has been amassing various collections since she was a toddler. Erasers, toy ponies, tiny glass animals and numerous other small items…she likes to be able to access her abundant collections at any given time. Whenever we need to go somewhere, she wants to bring EVERYTHING with her.

Obviously, this is a huge problem. We don’t own a semi-truck and don’t intend on purchasing one anytime in the near future. So how do we carry everything? We don’t. After some tough negotiations, we settled on a solution that allows her to carry a bag filled with a few items from her collections. At first, it wasn’t an easy compromise because she didn’t want to leave anything at home. Over the years, we’ve stayed firm and consistent so she has accepted that everything eventually gets a turn in the “going out” bag.

We’ve made the process fun for her by choosing different bags each trip. If you try it, your child may prefer one special designated bag for outings. Tailor the going out bag to your child’s creature comfort needs. Your endgame is to give your child a sense of peace, calmness and relaxation.

The one rule that must be followed? It must be carried by the child so make sure the one you or your child chooses is manageable. If it’s too large or too heavy, you’ll end up with more tears and a potential meltdown. Keep in mind that you are assisting your child’s quest to participate in society.

It’s been our experience that my daughter is much calmer and more relaxed when she can access and occupy herself with things that make her happy. Leaving the house doesn’t have to be a nightmare when you bring along a few creature comforts.

Happy trails!

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About Jodi Murphy

I am the founder of Geek Club Books, autism storytelling through mobile apps for awareness, acceptance and understanding. My mission is to use the art of storytelling and technology to entertain and educate for the social good. I am a 'positive' autism advocate, mother of an awesome adult on the autism spectrum, lifestyle journalist, and marketing specialist.

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