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.