Autism Awareness Day #23

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Ever heard the phrase, “Every cloud has a silver lining?” Well … today was a great example of this.  Today started badly … like a big, black, threatening cloud was hanging over me and poor little James.  But then we had an unexpected silver lining!!!  For a day that started like complete hell, today turned into one of the best days we’ve ever had!

I’ll cover the “big, threatening cloud part” first …

Anxiety. It is an uncontrollable, cruel monster.  James’ anxiety about returning to school began last night.  The lunch boxes triggered a crying meltdown that lasted about an hour.  He was under his bed for most of it.  Combined with this anxiety about school, was his concern about getting a family dog.  Both boys have been really eager to get a dog and have completely harassed Chris and me about it incessantly for 12 months.  In the last few months though the dog fervour has reached fever pitch and James has just been persistently nagging us about the dog – really perseverating on it – to the point where you just want to scream!

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As I watched him last night though I thought how a dog would actually be a big help to him when he’s really distressed and resistant to human contact and interaction. Our cat Luna has been amazing for giving him comfort at times such as these but she’s not an overly affectionate cat. She is helpful at bedtime when James is anxious about going to sleep as she is happy to lie on his bed, snuggle in and purr.  James always says, “Luna has the most perfect engine!”  I think dogs are better when it comes to emotional distress.  Over the past few months I’ve been keeping my ears and eyes open to see if we could locate a more mature dog with a gentle nature.

This morning James was really out of sorts from the get go. He was crying before we even got to school.  Tom merrily skipped off to get his day started without so much as looking over his shoulder.  He was ready to “rock and roll” – in his words!  James became quite upset whilst we waited in the hall so I took him over to his “safe spot” near the office. He just wasn’t settling.  We checked in with one of the lovely learning support teachers who all but stood on her head and whistled Dixie to distract him without success. I suggested I take him upstairs to outside his classroom.  He still wasn’t settling.  “Mum, I’m just so worried about this.  It’s been too long since I’ve been here and I’ve forgotten all about it.”  He was physically shaking and sobbing.  After 8 years of this, you would think it would get easier, but it still breaks my heart into a million pieces. Poor little boy!

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The class came up and he retreated behind a cupboard saying, “I don’t want anyone to see me. I’m sad. No-one can see me!” This was interesting because he’s never been aware of others and what they may or may not think of him.  Today was a turning point.  James’ teacher is a gorgeous woman.  She used every brilliant tactic there is but he was just too distressed to respond.  I tried to get him settled in the classroom but he just couldn’t let go of me and was sobbing – so I took him back outside the room.  In the end, I left him huddled between a table and a cupboard with his iPad, in an effort to distract him.  He was being supervised by another beautiful staff member from the school.  We are so lucky with the school.  They are so wonderful!  I also told James that he would be picked up at 12pm so he just had to manage for 3 hours.  His response was, “I can try to survive until then, Mum!  Just go mum! You’ll be late for your work and you’ll be cross with me!”  I assured him I was not cross and that I had let work know I’d be a little bit late.  “I’m just really worried today, mum.  Will I ever see you again? (this is a familiar question from him)  It’s just going to take too long until I see you again.” (again a familiar theme – he worries about how much time there is – he seems to lack an understanding of it!)

Sometimes, despite all your best planning and efforts things just still go to hell. I used to really berate myself on these occasions but I’ve learnt over time that sometimes these things can’t be controlled or prepared for.  Sometimes you just have to ride out the really tough moments and hope something is learnt from them.  I just so desperately wish that things were easier for James.  As I collected myself in the car at the front of the school, I resolved to take the boys to the pound after school to start a more serious search for a dog.

Enter … the silver lining!!!

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Introducing … “Scout”. He is a one year old Border Collie Kelpie Cross. Scout is loveable, gentle and playful. The boys bonded with Scout immediately. Thanks RSPCA 😀

The boys and I picked up Chris at 3:30pm and off we went to the pound. We have done lots of talking about dogs and how to choose the perfect dog for our family.  We also said that we would not be taking a dog home today, that we were researching and that we would be meeting lots of different kinds of dogs today.

The first dog the boys met was “Mike” – a silky terrier cross. Interestingly, neither boy was keen to approach Mike.  Mike was an “edgy” little dog.  James in particular is a very “vibe” driven child – he intuitively picks up on vibes from others.  We went and met a few more dogs with a similar non-committal response from both boys.  Then the handler went and got “Scout”.

Immediately, this dog waggled itself into a curved shape (as they do!) with its little bottom tucked under itself. It licked Tom on the face sending him into hysterical laughter.  Tom is fearless and loves all animals.  James was reserved and cautious.  I persuaded James to sit down on the ground and to pat “Scout” from a slight distance.  “Scout” reversed his butt right up onto James’ lap and plonked there.  James then patted him.  I was crying!  Then James vigorously flapped his hair and proclaimed, “Mum … Dad … this is THE dog! This is the perfect dog for us!”  Chris and I were so elated.  We then took Scout for a walk around the park just to get to know him a bit better.  James just continued to flap and proclaim loudly, “We’ve found the perfect dog! This is the perfect dog for our family!”  We had not intended to come home with a dog but Scout really was the “perfect dog” for us and neither Chris nor I (or the boys) could have left him behind.

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When we all got into the car, Scout reversed his little butt in beside both boys on the back seat. It was like he was always meant to be with us.  He was so very good and kept smooching up to the boys alternately the whole way home.  Scout is now settled into his special house and is sleeping happily as we speak.

 

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Thomas … ever the comedian! Scout clambered in there with him for a while. Priceless 😀

Many say that finding a forever pet at the pound is “saving a life”. And whilst this is true, I suspect that Scout will return the favour to our family a million times over.  Our family is now complete.  We can find our “silver lining” in the most unexpected of places and that “silver lining” can help you to find the sunshine again, even on the crappiest of days! 😀

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Autism Awareness Day #22

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A characteristic of Autism is characterised by restricted, repetitive and stereotypic patterns of behaviour.  This can manifest differently in individuals with Autism.  Some individuals may have inflexible routines; some many have repetitive body movements and other behaviours (head banging, twirling, spinning wheels on objects); insisting on having certain objects with them at all times; rigid adherence to rules; resistance to change; obsessions or strong interests that consume most of the child’s attention. It is thought that these behaviours may be a result of the fact that due to the stress of living in a neuro-typical world, individuals with ASD try to create order through these repetitive behaviours and routines.  These repetitive behaviours serve a purpose – to calm, to address sensory issues, to reduce anxiety; to help the individual feel more in control of their environment and also just for enjoyment.

http://www.autismtraining.com.au/public/index.cfm?action=showPublicContent&assetCategoryId=1025

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We have had some very interesting repetitive behaviours in our home over the time.  At the age of about 3, James chose to walk backwards exclusively for a period of weeks.  James has had a variety of special interests over the years including the Wiggles, Fireman Sam, cars and Thomas the Tank Engine when he was younger.  He then became really interested in WWII tanks and artillery, Star Wars, Super Heroes and more recently he is really into Minecraft and Clash of the Clans (iPad interactive games).

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James was a head banger as a little boy.  He also chewed his lips and cheeks, and often his fingers too.  He still often walks with his head on the side (sensory input) and toe walks on occasion.  He is spinning less and flapping less as he gets older and discovers other ways to meet these needs in his body.  Licking things and other compulsive pica type behaviours continue to be an issue.

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Tom was all about Thomas the Tank Engine until he started Prep.  He loved his trains.  He has always loved mini-figures (Star Wars, Avengers, Super Heroes) and loves to line them up and recreate scenes from shows he has watched on TV.  He’s now very interested in Lego, Minecraft and Clash of the Clans.  We are really blessed in that the boys’ interests have often been quite similar which has helped really bond them.  They can chat endlessly about their favourite topic and how lovely to be able to share it with someone who thinks it’s as awesome as you do.

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Tom is quite perseverative in his speech.  For example, at night time he regularly asks me how many sleeps it is until the weekend.  If I say 5 sleeps, he will then say, “So first it will be 5 sleeps, and then we’ll wake up and then we’ll go to bed and then it will be 4 sleeps; and then we’ll wake up and then we’ll go to bed and then it will be 3 sleeps: …” and he must finish the entire sequence.  He can’t be interrupted.  This issue pops up a lot even when it comes to simple things like explaining to a friend that they are going to take turns being Batman on the wii – “First you can be Batman and I’ll be Robin; then I will be Batman and you’ll be Robin; then you’ll be Batman …”

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From a young age, we taught the boys that everyone has different interests.  We have always had time limits around the amount of time that we allow them to spend focusing on their interests, encouraging them to do other things as well like going for a scooter ride, playing with cousins, trying a new game etc.  They are really quite good at not talking ‘at’ people about their interests and generally they are quite good at moving away from that interest and on to other things (thanks to being trained with timers from a young age!).

We have always talked about the fact that there are things that we need to do every day –outside time, meal time, family time, job time and just having fun time when they can focus on their interests.  The day has many parts – there are ‘have to dos’ and ‘choose to dos’ – you can’t just play the iPad all day!  We’ve tried to integrate this with teaching the boys about being healthy as well – that our bodies need a break from screens and that our bodies and brains need different activities throughout the day to keep healthy.  James struggles more with this than Tom but he’s getting much better every year.

My advice to parents and teachers is to use these interests.  Get to know a bit about the child’s special interests yourself – this will be wonderful for rapport building.  Remember that their special interests and/or restricted behaviours serve a purpose for the child so they will need times every day just to focus on their interest.  Use these special interests as a motivator for learning and as a reward for completing ‘have to do’ tasks.  Remember – this ability to focus on a subject is a real gift.  Often these interests become lifelong passions and can lead our children into careers related to these interests.

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Autism Awareness Day #21

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Behaviour management is possibly the trickiest issue for most parents and teachers. Behaviour management is even more complicated when you are parenting or teaching a child on the Autism Spectrum.

Before I begin, I should say that every child and every situation is unique so what I’m suggesting here is certainly not a one size fits all. It’s simply my thoughts and these are strategies that have worked well in our family context …

It’s important that we never place limitations on a child and what they are capable of achieving. It’s always good to extend your child, even just a little bit, in order to ensure they continue to grow, learn and progress.  I think sometimes parents, teachers and others working with our ASD kids can tend to unknowingly lower their expectations or make unnecessary exceptions for our children and their behaviour.  In my view, our children need to know that certain behaviours such as physical violence or verbal abuse are unacceptable, ASD or not.  We should always make clear our expectations and stick by them.  Of course, there will be times when we need to use our discretion and make some accommodations but by and large, our behavioural expectations of our ASD kids need not be different to those expected from their peer group.  Keeping your hands, feet and other objects to yourself; following directions the first time; speaking nicely to others and being a good friend – are all achievable rules.

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ASD Visual Timer. Available from the Sue Larkey online sensory shop.
http://www.suelarkey.com.au/shopping/pgm-more_information.php?id=45&=SID

With children on the spectrum, it’s important to have systems in place when it comes to behaviour. In our house we have written rules which we talk about and which we expect will be followed.  We have kept these rules similar to the school rules to avoid confusion.

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We use token boards beside our displayed house rules in order to reinforce positive choices in following the rules. Basically, both boys start with all three tokens (stars) on the board every day.  If they make a poor choice, they lose a token and receive a warning.  If they lose a second token, they lose a privilege such as iPad time.  If they lose a third token, they go to “time out” in their bedroom for 5-10 minutes and then need to have a chat with Chris and/or myself about their choices before we move on.  At the start of every day both boys start with all tokens.  Every day is a fresh, new day.  In my view, punishments or any negativity regarding choices and behaviour should not be held over from the day before.  I think every day should be a clean slate.  Further, I’m not sure that our ASD kids can transfer choices made the day prior to the present day – therefore punishing in that way is actually futile.

Of course they are able to earn the tokens back by making consistently good choices. When we give a token back or take a token away – we always relate this back to a rule – for example, “James you have not kept your hands to yourself – therefore you will lose a token.  This is a warning.”  And likewise, “James thanks for speaking nicely to your brother, you may put a token back onto your token board”.  This really helps to reinforce the rules and positive choices.

We have visual supports for emotions and emotions management. We use the Tucker Turtle technique – stop, think, go into your shell and count to 3.  We are using these techniques on a day to day basis much less now that the boys are getting older and better at articulating how they feel.  In a high stress situation though, the visuals are still very helpful if one of the boys is reluctant or unable to verbalise their feelings.

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 Self regulation skills are an imperative part of a child being able to consistently make good choices. We use the “Alert Program – How does your engine run?” to teach self regulation.  This program was written more to address alertness and readiness to learn in a classroom context.  But I have found the simplicity of the concept makes it a fantastic overall tool to discuss both physical and emotional regulation.  Basically, you want your engine (behaviour, level of alertness) to be “just right” – not too high, not too low, just right.  For example, “James I think your engine is running a bit high because you’re making a lot of noise.  What do you think?”  The kids are now even able to help me out when my engine is running too high!!  They have learnt a range of strategies for dealing with too high or too low situations.  I think this program is marvellous.  For teachers, this is a wonderful program for your whole class to use.  https://www.alertprogram.com/

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The “Zones of Regulation” program is another fantastic resource for teaching self regulation and emotional control.   http://www.zonesofregulation.com/  It’s worth looking into and is another wonderful classroom resource.

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Some other resources worth looking at are the “Wheel of Choice” program by Lynn Lott and Jane Nelson. It is a visually based problem-solving program.  http://store.positivediscipline.com/Wheel-of-Choice-A-Problem-Solving-Program-E-Book-Download-PDF-File_p_68.html

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This visual support for the “Stop, Think, Choose” program is fantastic and another great classroom resource. We use this one at home too.  https://www.creativetherapystore.com/Anger-Control-Therapeutic-Games-and-Resources/Stop-Think-and-Choose-Poster/FR-73

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Visual supports are really helpful for your every child, every classroom. Visual schedules, break cards, visual timers, routine charts, supports for rules and expectations – all are helpful for every child in your home or classroom.  Anything you instigate for an ASD child will help your entire class.   And there’s little point teaching these skills to your ASD child at home or in a classroom, and not simultaneously upskilling their peers around them.  We have had our visual support board for just over 2 years now.  We are using it less because the boys have internalised the skills it was aiming to teach them.  It’s working!

It takes a considerable amount of time and effort to get these systems of support for positive behaviour choices into place however I guarantee it will be worth the effort for all the children in your homes and classrooms.

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Autism Awareness Day #20

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Random quotes from my two rogues to celebrate Easter Sunday:

 

Chris: Tom, how would you like a cup of smacks for dinner?

Tom: No thanks, Dad – you can’t eat those.

 

Tom and I were in the car together listening to a story about sperm donors. I didn’t think he was paying any attention because he was playing his iPad.  He then said, “Her Dad is a doughnut? I’d eat my dad if he was a doughnut!”

 

Me: James, please go and do your homework.

James: James is … offline!

 

James: Can we go and see St Anthony today?

Me: Do you mean St Anthony’s the school?

James: No … I want to see St Anthony?

Me: Well, that just isn’t possible because St Anthony is in heaven.

James: No, he’s not.  We just saw him the other day.

Me: We did? Where did we see him?

James: In his office at St Anthony’s.

<<apparently if you’re a school Principal you are immediately elevated to Saint status and inherit the name of the patron saint of the school!>>

 

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Commander Cody and Captain Rex. Star Wars – all the way!

When meeting his new psychologist (who is an absolutely gorgeous, quirky and enthusiastic man), he said … “You are young. Most people who help me are not young. How old are you? 38? YES! We are in the same column!” <<for those who are unsure … he is referring to the hundred square! How’s that for a patterns thinker!>>

 

Recently ,Thomas told me that apparently I am “Making Jesus cry” by disciplining him when he is bouncing all over the lounge couch! Apparently I also need to remember that “Jesus can see you ALL the time, Mum!!  He can see you REALLY well when you’re being rude to me!”

 

Tom: Mum, I’ve got extremely exciting news. I got the show and share bag at school.

Me: Wow! Awesome! What do you have to take to share?

Tom: I have to bring 3 things that start with ‘w’.

Me: Great! What ‘w’ things do you want to take?

Tom: I was thinking water, spiderman’s web and I can’t think of another one.

Me: How about this one? ((insert me waving!))

Tom: No, I don’t think that’s a great idea. I can’t cut your arm off and put it in my show and share bag!

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Our cat Luna had a little procedure late last year. I was out when Chris and the boys picked her up post op. James rang me to let me know how she went. When I asked if she was ok James said …. “Mum, I just looked at her with love hearts in my eyes and she looked at me with love hearts in her eyes!” Tom & Jerry cartoons are responsible for this … but how cute!

 

At the start of the year, James had been pretty high maintenance over a few weeks and as a result I had really been on his case. After “redirecting” him into time out one afternoon, I could hear him muttering to himself so I went and stood outside his door to eavesdrop. I do this on occasion because it makes me giggle – and sometimes you just need a laugh!!! This particular clanger –  said in a voice akin to Dr Claw in Inspector Gadget …. “God I desPISE that woman!” I know I should probably be hurt or horrified but it was absolutely priceless! Where do they pick this stuff up?

 

I was watching a really sad movie on the television one weekend afternoon.  I was crying whilst watching the final moments of the show.  Enter James.

James:  <<sights me and then his hands go straight over his ears!>> Oh no, Mum! What is that face about?

Me:  I’m just crying because it’s a sad story.  I’m OK.  I’m only sad because the movie is making me sad.

James:  <<running away …>> I can’t stay here then because I don’t want to be sad!  You’re OK mum.

Enter Tom.

Tom:  Mum, what’s that face about?

Me:  I’m crying.  I’m just crying because I’m watching a sad movie.

Tom:  Just switch it off then, Mum! <<departs immediately with an air of ‘seriously … my mum is so daft sometimes!..

Two very different answers – both a little left of centre – but meaningful  in their own way!

 

On his birthday Tom received a present that required batteries. Chris and I were having a chat about this and attempting to locate batteries.

Tom: It says batteries not included!

Me: That’s right, Tom.  That’s why dad is trying to find some.

Tom: But it says they are NOT included. We don’t need them!  Batteries are not needed for this toy!

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James: Mum, I’m fanished!

Me: Fanished?

James: Yes – I’m really hungry!

 

Tom: I’m going to be an army man when I grow up!

James: No!!!!!!!!!   No Tom … you’re my only brother!!!!

<< clearly being in the army spells death!>>

 

James: Mum, you are so refreshing.

Me: What do you mean, James? Refreshing like a nice cool drink on a hot day?

James: No .. refreshing! Like I’m telling you you’re very beautiful.

Me: Oh … do you mean ‘ravishing’?

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Autism Awareness Day #19

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Ever since he started Prep, James has had a tough time doing full days at school every day of the week. From Prep to Year 2 he would have on average 2-3 short days a week, coming home at the end of lunch time (around 1:30pm).  Without the early marks, we would notice a significant increase in his separation anxiety in the mornings, a significant decrease in his engagement at school and a significant increase in meltdowns after school.

This year he is in Year 3 and he has managed in Term 1 quite well with 1-2 early days per week, depending on the week. Next term we are going to trial doing full days.  His teacher now knows him well and understands his limits.  I know that she will notify me if he’s really not managing and I’ll just collect him early.  But I do think he’s ready to try – mostly because he’s really beginning to show his ability to self regulate.  This is my favourite example….

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I received a phone call from the school administration staff just prior to lunch time one day. They are the loveliest women and James has a great relationship with them.  The kind lady said to me, “Libby, I’m sorry to bother you but James has packed up all his gear, and he’s waiting down here in the office for you.  He is insistent that he is going home.  We have offered him alternatives as distractions such as visiting another classroom or going to find a friend with him but every time his answer is a definite no!”

I must admit I was rather confronted by this because by and large James is actually a very compliant child. I expressed this to the administration staff member and she replied, “Oh no! He’s not been rude at all. In fact, he has been really polite.  He just keeps saying, “No thanks … I need to go home with mum … but thanks for asking!”  Every time they attempted a new way to distract him he simply replied the same way, “No thanks … I need to go home with Mum … but thanks for asking!”

This was a reply that we taught to him when he was younger to divert meltdowns especially when visiting others. Instead of screaming ‘no’ and falling apart, we asked that if he really had an issue with something that he simply say, ‘No thanks, but thanks for asking.”  However, he then generalised this strategy to every situation.  “James, please go and get in the bath!”  “Oh … no thanks Mum … but thanks for asking!”  Hahaha!  Frustrating … and it has required explanation … but it still pops up quite regularly.

When I turned up to collect him that day he burst into tears and clung onto me. By the time we got to the car he was sobbing,

J: “Mum, just take me to jail! I did the wrong thing! I tried really hard to survive the day but I just couldn’t do it!”

M: “It’s OK, love. Did you try some of your other strategies?”

J: “Yes! I went to the learning support room and did some jumping and other exercises. That didn’t work. Then I tried some down time with my iPad but that didn’t work either.  Even my body scan (a psychologist taught technique) didn’t work.  My engine was still wrong (from the Alert Program – How does your engine run?”  I was just so tired and worried, mum.”

Receiving this extra information from him was very important. Initially I was cross with him because I thought that he had more or less simply demanded to be picked up.  But hearing the complete story, it’s clear that despite trying every strategy he’d ever been taught, he still wasn’t coping which is why he asked the school to call me.  This was his attempt at self regulating! He recognised that he’d exhausted all strategies bar this one and that he did genuinely need to ‘get out of there’!  This was actually a great big achievement! So my response was :

M: “James, I am hearing you say that today was hard. I’m hearing you say that you used all your strategies but it still didn’t help you out. I am not cross with you.  I am actually proud of you for knowing that you were at your limit.  I’m also proud of you for speaking nicely to the office ladies and not falling apart by crying or having a meltdown.  You did really well.  I wonder though how we might do this in a slightly better way next time?”

J: “I’m not too sure about that, Mum.”

M: “I think maybe you should have talked to your teacher first. She could have helped you.  She could have called Mum.  It’s not your decision to make alone about whether or not you are going home.  If this happens again some day, please talk to your teacher first.  OK?”

J: “Sounds like a plan, Mum!”

Sometimes we fail to see the achievements due to the circumstances. We are so blessed that James is a part of such a caring and supportive school community.  They truly are wonderful with him and they have a great understanding of him.  Everything I read talks about anxiety management as being the key to ensuring a great long term prognosis for those on the spectrum.  Things are looking promising … and every day I am so incredibly grateful for that 😀

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Autism Awareness Day #18

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A “stim” refers to self-stimulatory behaviour such as hand flapping, rocking, spinning or the repetition of words and phrases. We all self-stimulate to a degree.  Some of us chew gum, tap our pens, jiggle our legs or bite our nails.  Individuals on the spectrum use ‘stims’ to help manage their anxiety or other negative emotions, or perhaps to help them to handle too much sensory input (too much noise, light, heat etc).  The level of their self-stimulatory behaviour is higher and more intense than that of their neurotypical peer group. http://autism.about.com/od/autismterms/f/stimming.htm .

Tom is a visual stimmer. He likes to get down to his toys at eye level; he often skims his hat rim with his eyes when he’s wearing hats; he likes to watch the light flick through his fingers; he will often watch his ipad using his peripheral vision only; and he frequently does odd things with his eyes (cross them, look sideways at objects, go cross eyed etc).  Tom is also the child that liked to line up our shoes nice and straight against the wall, all facing the same way.  He also still likes to line his mini-figures up in rows.  He then lies beside them at eye level and looks intently at them.

When James was younger he had a number of ‘stims’ including toe walking; spinning his entire body, looking at objects at eye level and flapping his hands. These stims have changed as he is getting older.  It’s very rare now to see him toe walk and the flapping is all but gone too … a bit sad because I loved the flapping …  there was such unbridled joy in it!  These days, I more notice the vocalisations and whistling.

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James at the age of 3. He loved to lie up on the table and push his beloved trains around at eye level. Like Tom, James  adored Thomas the Tank Engine. In this picture you can see that James also loved to kiss Thomas and whisper to him.

Both boys make a lot of noise constantly – they vocally stim. I often question Tourette’s Syndrome with both of them because of the intensity of this behaviour.  James’ whistling when he’s occupied with some activity is incessant.  It is not melodious – it is chaotic! And it is very difficult to disregard!  James also does random vocalisations which can take years off your life.

For example, right now it’s 4:55am. James woke me up due to being anxious about the fact that he himself was awake.  After combined failed attempts to get back to sleep we have both ended up out in the lounge room.  He is watching “Stampy Longnose” (Minecraft YouTube sensation) and I am typing this.  The ambience is that of the early morning – quiet, peaceful.  Then out of the blue just moments ago he shrieked on top note, just a scream really! My heart just about flew out of my body.  In our house, we affectionately name this random shrieking as a “sonic attack” (borrowed from Pokemon!)

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Tom is the master of the “sonic attack” (as we affectionately call it in this house!) It has taken years off my life, I’m sure.  I will admit to having the odd chortle to myself when we are out shopping and I’ve noted others’ reactions to his “sonic attacks”.

Sometimes strategies such as using gum can help or some vigorous physical activity, but usually the need to stim just needs to take its course. If you happen to have an ASD individual in your class, in your family or even if you see them at the shops and you note this behaviour … have a think about how hard it would be to just stop chewing your nails, or stop drinking your glass of wine each evening, or give up your morning coffee!  The need to stim is possibly greater than these things and in the overall scheme of things … really not difficult to accommodate.

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Autism Awarenes Day #17

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James and Thomas attend a local Catholic school. They both just love learning about God and the life of Jesus.  They love the Catholic rituals and the stories from the bible.  They have different takes on the whole religion thing though.

James is very concrete and straight forward. It is as it is.  He receives the information, and reads the stories, and enjoys the rules and routines of the prayers.  James doesn’t ask many questions about heaven and faith. His line of enquiry or concern is more about mortality.

James – “Granny, when I’m a big boy I’m going to have a job at Masters <<his favourite shop>> Oh … <<hang dog look>> but you’ll be dead by then won’t you Granny? That’s sad!”

James – “Granny, I won’t have to miss you when you go to heaven … I’ll just send you emails! Do they have email in heaven?”

Tom on the other hand asks ceaseless questions.

“Jesus walked on this earth and he fixed people up and did all these great things. So why does everyone talk about God all the time when Jesus actually walked on this earth and actually did stuff?”

“Can all the angels in heaven look down on me because I really don’t want stranger angels looking at me all the time?”

“Is there a floor in heaven? How can angels look down on us if there is a floor?”

“Is there a toilet in heaven because I’ll probably have to wee!”

“Mum, what were the names of all the soldiers that arrested Jesus? I want their actual names. <<of course – I didn’t know the answer>> Well Mum, you just need to go and Google it then!”

When learning about private and public behaviours and that private behaviour was for his bedroom – he asked … “Would I have a bedroom in heaven because I can only do private things in my bedroom? And if I do have a bedroom will Jesus knock before he comes in?”

When Tom was sprung chewing his own toe nails Chris and I expressed our disgust. Tom’s response – “It’s just my life! This is just how Jesus made me!”

“Mum sorry but you are NOT the boss of this earth, Jesus and God are the bosses!”

And you thought theology was hard!!!!!!

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