Is it Autism? Yes.
Things don’t come easy for him. He is and always has been a difficult kid, I admit it. He made life tough. When he was a baby, you had to bounce him…ALL THE TIME. You couldn’t surprise him. He sobbed and banged his head on the floor during his 2nd birthday party. He only calmed down when we let him be by himself. You couldn’t sing Happy Birthday or he would lose his mind. He has always had obsessions, a specific toy, game, or show. Potty training just didn’t happen as a normal process. He cried. A LOT. ALL THE TIME.
Looking back, it should have been clear. I teach school. I know things. I read books. I went to college. I took him to doctors. I took him to see all sorts of professionals. Is he Oppositional Defiant? Is he bipolar? Is it ADHD? Is it autism? What is wrong??
I finally took him out of kindergarten after Christmas last school year. The meltdowns, the shirt chewing, the refusals, the bathroom accidents….I documented every incident trying to get a handle on what was going on. We tried ADHD meds but he had a severe neurological reaction. His teacher was so hopeful. Nope, not the fix.
at the same time, I embrace the label because what my son deals with every day is REAL. It isn’t something he chooses. It isn’t part of some master plan to drive everyone around him nuts. He needs understanding. He needs patience from the people around him (including me). He needs accommodations.I wince when I think back to how I treated him when I thought differently. I cringe when I think back to the embarrassment I felt as I dragged him out of the lunchroom because he was under the table screaming because he couldn’t stand to watch someone chew their food. I tried everything. I begged everyone to listen to me…there is something wrong. Please tell me what to do. Do I punish him? Do I ignore behaviors? I remember one of the psychologists saying, “just praise him and provide negative consequences for poor behavior”…I’m like, Duh. I’m a teacher…that’s what I do all day everyday. I know how to handle behavior in an Applied Behavior Analysis manner. But people wouldn’t understand. Nothing worked.The reason is that it wasn’t behavior he could control. He was overloaded with sensory issues. Yes, they are real. He doesn’t always get the understood social cues and “common knowledge” that most kids have. He cannot pay attention to anything that isn’t relevant to him. And guess what? School isn’t relevant. Naming letters and calling out sounds isn’t relevant. You know what is? Dr Who. That’s relevant. Minecraft. That’s relevant. Skylanders, umm, yes, that’s relevant.
It’s been a long journey to get to where we are now. It has been Dr visits, meetings, reading, researching, more Dr visits, and me trying to create a bridge between learning and making it relevant to him. This is one of the ways I make learning meaningful to him. He chooses and places the stickers after he reads the sentence. We re-read them each night and he tolerates it because they are Skylanders. Notice that it is always the girl stickers that he doesn’t like =)
My heart breaks when I think about the way the world sees him. I am devastated that they don’t see him the way I see him. I am torn to pieces when I see people not cut him any slack whatsoever and get angry with him and punish him for things and rules that he doesn’t understand. I shake my head in disbelief when he’s allowed to sit in the corner and cry for 30 minutes instead of play. No one seems to understand. He has a reason for everything he does. He just can’t always tell you at that moment what it is. Sometimes he just needs a break. Just a moment to calm down. Sometimes he just needs someone to let him have closure on an activity before he moves on to the next one.
There are ways I can make him talk and cooperate (no, not torture) but “ain’t nobody got time for that” at school. Except me.
I would love to say it has been great. I would love to say teachers have used the suggestions. I’d love to say we have it all figured out.
If they could, they would. But they CAN’T! That’s the whole point.
He can’t. He literally cannot handle the stress of transitions. You can’t change the schedule or he will meltdown. You can’t expect him to understand when you say, ‘just a minute’ but it takes 3. And then he screams, “But you said just a MINUTE!!!”My husband says it is difficult for adults to let go of control and accept that they might have to change their own behavior. They think that if they make accommodations, then the kid wins. The kid is being catered to while other kids have to live up to certain standards, this kid gets a free pass. What I say to that is that my kid isn’t like other kids. Do you have any idea how much simpler my life would be if he was?? But he’s not. He isn’t a “brat.” He isn’t being “bad” when he refuses to go to PE. He is terribly misunderstood and needs people to take the time to help him work through his issues.
I have “that kid” and I’m sorry, I wouldn’t trade him for anything.
He isn’t like other kids, but in a good way. He sees things differently…he’s interesting. He’s gifted at computers. He’s sweet and funny. He’s quirky. He’s one of the most important people in my life.
He’s my baby.
He’s smart and makes connections that I would never make on my own. He’s just a little different, like I said, in a good way. He’s good at monkey bars and loves to hang upside down.
“Autism is the result of a neurological disorder that has an effect on normal brain function, affecting development of the person’s communication and social interaction skills.” You have no idea.
He struggles every day to make it through the day, every day. It is a constant battle for him to keep it together. We have exhausted every avenue open to us to try and get him help.