Routines are an essential part of life for many on the spectrum and my son Skyler definitely demands consistency.

I’ve spent this entire weekend parenting solo and essentially filling as Joshua Hellmann (aka Skyler’s favorite person) doing all the special things they normally do together while Josh is out of town running the Cleveland Marathon.

Skyler and I visited his favorite restaurant for lunch, like he and Josh do every Saturday and enjoyed the beautiful morning weather walking our neighborhood both yesterday and today.

To my surprise, aside from a little side eye and occasional slaps on my arm as if to say “you’re not Josh but I guess I’ll allow you to sub in,” it’s been nice spending carefree, quality 1:1 time with Skyler that doesn’t involve feeding, chauffeuring or the countless other ‘mom’ duties required of me daily.

My heart truly needed it.

A few key observations were also made.

Skyler has clearly become the favorite and most frequent patron of Tucker’s American Favorites restaurant because when we walked in, the hostess loudly yelled out to our favorite waitress & kitchen staff “Skyler’s here” as we were promptly seated at HIS booth. We no longer need to place his order (bunless cheeseburger with mashed potatoes & green beans) because due to Skyler being there every weekend for several years, they know to start preparing it the moment we arrive.

Walks with Skyler used to be a major struggle and couldn’t be tackled without at least two adults, one on either side of him. He would drop to the ground every 10 feet, grab handfuls of grass and mulch & criss cross back and forth from the sidewalk to the street. Now, he walks steadily down the sidewalk and only pauses in place when he gets the urge to reach for grass – allowing us the opportunity to help him redirect his body and continue forward.

So, my important takeaway is this … regardless of the initial challenges with both restaurants and leisurely strolls, we kept trying. His comfort level with both activities is incredible to witness and made all the challenges worth it.

Don’t ever give up … they want you & NEED you to keep trying.