"When a tree falls in a lonely forest, and no animal is near by to hear it, does it make a sound?" - Physics by Charles Riborg Mann and George Ransom Twiss.
Note to Self: PAY ATTENTION!
Our Little Man is what they call "hyperverbal." It might be more accurate to say he is super-extra-mega-hyperverbal. Like hyperverbal on steroids. More or less from the time he gets up, to the time he goes to sleep he is jabbering away. In fact, I have carried him to bed while he was asleep and heard him muttering. Usually it is something repetitive like dialogue from a TV show, or part of a song. Sometimes, or maybe even most times, it is meaningless. Think about that annoying song you can not get out of your head and it just keeps repeating, over and over. Now multiply that by 24x7.
But sometimes, it does have meaning. The issue for us is separating the meaningful from the meaningless.
So, I came home from work the other night and the Little Man comes to greet me with his brothers. This time, he does not give me the scripted "Hi, Daddy" before he runs off to play. But instead he says "Little Einsteins" and he tries to push his way past me out the door.
"Little Einsteins." Meaningful or meaningless?
Initially, I thought it was just a meaningless utterance he made as he wanted to squeeze past me and run outside. Since he is a flight risk, going out alone is a major no-no. I was readying myself for the coming battle of wills when it struck me. He was in my car the night before and left his Little Einstein's character figurines in the car. He was not mindlessly stating whatever was in his head. He was requesting the toys from my car.
Here I was ready to play stern parent on him and not allow him to run outside, when all he wanted was to get his toys from the car. It scares me to think how often that may happen to him. How frustrating it must be to have such a limitation on communication, to overcome that limitation to verbalize a very simple request - only to have that request ignored - or maybe worse- to be misunderstood.
Note to Self: PAY ATTENTION!
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
"The worst thing you can do with a young autistic child is nothing." (Temple Grandin)
To push, or not to push? That is the question. If only it were so simple. So with a "typical child" its easy, right? You lay down a couple unpopular rules about studying, bed time and eating vegetables and every once in a while you allow a little break in the rules as a reward, or for some comfort, or just as "our little secret."
Mom says, "We don't watch Sponge Bob." Mom goes to the store. Dad promptly puts on the right honorable Mister Square Pants. (That plan would have worked so well if he wasn't so darn honest. Dad busted!)
So how is it with our child with "Autism?" A child whose natural condition seems to be discomfort--trouble finding foods to eat, trouble finding words to say, trouble falling asleep at night. Trouble, trouble, trouble. A child who left to his own devices would find comfort in the repetitive predictable world of letters, numbers, select TV shows, videos and, in this new era of technology, apps.
So, as a parent, where do you draw the line at adding to the natural state of discomfort? When can you give in? Should you ever give in? When you give in, are you sending a mixed signal? Are you causing more harm than good? I don't know.
But, what I do know is this: We just gave in and we are now the proud owners of at least our 5th set of Fisher Price stackable colored rings! "How could that be?" you ask. Yes, our beautiful little 6 year old boy, had the rare sensation of being alone with mom and dad in Target and of being given free reign of the entire toy section. He thoughtfully walked up and down every aisle and analyzed all of the incredible toys that are destined to be future junk in a box in our basement. And his choice? Another set of stackable rings!
With such a sweet look accompanied by a pointing gesture and "Look, there she is!" -- Who were we to deny him the pleasure of that comfort? I guess we will pick and choose our spots. Some kid at some future yard sale will be very happy with that purchase.