My cup runneth over
This saying comes from the Bible and refers to a person having an excess of good things happening to them to the point that they can no longer contain them all and their cup overflows. I have always had a strong image associated with this and can really see the flow of events spilling over the side.
But in addition to positive outcomes, I have also always been able to see when my own or another person's cup of misfortune runs over. I am sure you have too. There is a finite amount we can all "take" before it is too much and we just "lose" it. Internet down when you need to check email, ok I'll wait a little bit. No cream for my coffee at home, ok I'll grab a cup on the way to work. The blouse I put on suddenly rips, I can find a sweater instead. The dog helped himself to the lunch I had set out to take with me, there is more in the fridge. The car won't turn over because the dome light was left on....and there we have it. My cup runneth over in the non positive way. I could be resilient about the other four things but their is no room for the fifth one and I scream and have a grown up mini tantrum in the garage. Sigh. Regroup. Solve this problem too.
The challenge for people with ASD can be that they don't have as much experience at solving problems themselves so their cup starts out much smaller. They also don't have the same perspective to see the size of a problem as manageable. Tiny cup meets bucket of a problem and this person can only do so much to hold it together. From the outside, we may think, why are you reacting by hitting me when I tell you that we are not going to speech today after all because Miss Suzie is sick? We could have fun. We could go home and play or read or head to have a coffee date or go for a swim or, or, or, you could even choose. But from the outside, we don't see the cup already teeming with there was a different bus driver today. There was an assembly to honor the Civil Rights movement. The internet was really slow and wouldn't play the song correctly. Joey screamed in class and my shoes have been rubbing the wrong way all day. I HAVE HAD IT! But all we see is the tantrum and let's face it, adults are not always the most well equipped to handle that many changes and not feel overwhelmed eventually.
Of course learning is all about stretching the cup and shrinking the problem. Both are important and both are necessary for everyone to understand they can manage the unpredictability that will come their way. As parents and teachers, we need to support all learners through this but without solving the problems for them. They will not learn to stretch their cup and shrink the problem if we solve it for them. They need to have hands held while cleaning up a mess. They need to have exaggerated gestures while looking for a lost toy. They need to experience hiccups AND experience the resolution so they begin to know in themselves that they can be resilient.
And there will still be times when their cups will overflow. The goal is to help kids know where the mop is to clean up the puddle and take their cup back out in to the world.