Monday, September 5, 2011
Autistic children and idle hands
Recently, this weekend, my son got up and took very good care of himself without waking us. He got dressed, made himself a toaster waffle (with peanut butter), and then played in his room until we woke up. We thought it was a very "big boy" way of handling himself and we told him so. Just to be clear, my son can wake up very early; far earlier than anyone wants to get up on a weekend. Six A.M. anyone?
We had a great day as well and felt very good about the grown up things he did. The feeling took a nose dive the very next day (this morning).
First, let me take you back to his toddler days. In those days, we had to be very sure we got up before he did or our home would be ransacked. Everything would be pulled out of the refrigerator and dumped on the kitchen floor. Yes EVERYTHING. If he could get to flour and sugar (and the little master climber definitely could) it would join the contents of the fridge. If his pull up/diaper had any contents he would smear them on the walls. We would find him nude and often in the midst of any mess. He would also set our caged pets free (rats at the time). We've found him in many interesting places. Sitting in the rats aquarium or on top of the fridge were just a couple of the more surprising ones. Toddlers will do these things if they are exploring on their own, but it takes an autistic toddler to defy reason or science. When was the last time you found your 2 and half year old on top of your six foot fridge? I rest my case.
Today, we see lapses that seem to take him back to the decisions of his toddler days. No smearing, thank heavens, but bad choices for a 9 year old. Today he decided to sneak desserts for breakfast. Yeah, that's normal kid stuff really. It's when he decided to saw marks on the kitchen cabinets with a steak knife that pinched it for us. This prompted a long talk about knives and what he already knew about them. He did, in his toddler days, play with a knife and cut holes in our bed sheets. I've taught him all about how to stay away from sharp knives and how they are to be respected.
And how did we find out about all this? He gives himself away, believing he will be caught, he spills the beans. He says, "oh I hate myself for what I did" but we don't allow that either.
I know this morning wasn't anywhere near as bad as his toddler days. What I'm looking at (and discussed with him) is the fact that he needs extra supervision and we can't allow ourselves to forget that. I want him to be the big boy who can make his own breakfast, but maybe he's not totally ready for that. I know this is a common point for our spectrum kids. They're just behind a ways really. I look forward to seeing him catch up.