Yep, it’s day one of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. I’ve decided to do my very first post on Autism and what it looks like in our family.
This is what Autism looks like to me… My precious Little Man.
National statistics say that 1 in 88 children are on the spectrum today. That’s a
lot of kids with something that people not touched by it really don’t understand. Now, Little Man has a host of other disorders that go hand in hand with his Autism, he’s paranoid schizophrenic, has PTSD (due to an abusive bio0-mom and boyfriends), OCD, and is just about 10 years developmentally delayed. He’s basically a “typical” 6 year old… in a 16 year old body.
Our day starts with breakfast, which thankfully Little Man can usually handle on his own – if it’s a good day, and we have instant oatmeal or cereal for him to make. Of course he has to be supervised, and we have to watch him eat – because he also has an eating disorder that stems from his PTSD – he was underfed so much as a young child that he tends to over eat or try to eat so fast that he will either make himself sick or burn the crap out of his mouth with hot foods.
After breakfast he will watch television or play with legos (right now he’s not in school because we just moved again and are waiting for services to get started here). Of course back before we moved, when he first came home from the hospital he was only getting an hour and a half of school each day anyway, so his day hasn’t changed that much here.
Lego’s are his current favorite thing and he will sit for hours playing with
them building some pretty cool stuff. Last week he created an amazing puzzle box that was five layers deep, each layer fitting neatly into the other in perfect order right down to the single row in the center. This week he made a “sword” of lego’s and created a stand for it to sit in. He’s pretty cool like that, making some really creative stuff…
But a lot of the time he is creating weapons… some means of protecting himself, because of the Paranoid Schizophrenia he has irrational fears. Of course I’m sure his past abuse has something to do with that as well.
Often he has to be redirected, and his OCD prevents him from stopping something (especially talking) once he’s started… Usually it’s something that starts with “What would you rather have happen to you”… followed by two equally horrible fates – which of course we do not respond with answers to, we just try to redirect to something more positive. It’s not always easy, and is often accompanied by a meltdown.
Lately a meltdown consists of him getting frustrated and angry and self deprecating… up until his last hospitalization meltdowns consisted of him hitting himself, banging his head into the wall, floor, or other immovable object, or suicide attempts… Ya’ll don’t know how scary it is to have an 8 year old tell you they want to die… or wish they’d never been born, or that you would be better off without them. Of course – we still hear those things, just not as often because he has a mantra he’s made to repeat when those negative start flowing… We make him say: I am loved. I am worth it. My family loves me. He says this until the negatives stop, and he isn’t so agitated.
He also spends a good portion of the day counting things or stacking things – I think that’s why he loves Lego so much – he can stack them and they don’t fall down.
We of course have lunch mid day, and usually that’s also something he can do for himself – peanut butter and jelly, hot dogs, or ramen that he can prepare on his own with supervision.
We spend the afternoons usually doing the Lego thing again – because trying to get him to do anything else right now is a real battle, and I’m just not cut out of the same cloth as those awesome creatures they call Homeschooling Mom’s… I tried, and Ya’ll it’s hard work – work I’m just not able to do. We do spend a lot of time talking to Little Man and working on social behaviors, because that’s where his weakness lies. He has no social skills at all – so he’s learning those daily.
Bedtime comes around 10 pm and is usually preceded by the supervised shower (Dad or big brother’s job) – because he can’t seem to get in the shower and keep the water in there for some reason…
Then there’s dinner time, which is a family affair and usually goes off without a hitch because if there is anything Little Man loves more than Lego – it’s food.
Then we “wash, rinse, repeat” every day…. because if we vary the routine by too much – we are met with meltdowns for days… Which is why therapy days and doctor appointment days are generally pretty hard. Appointments are scheduled as close to the end of the day as possible, just so his normal routine isn’t interrupted too much and so we don’t have a full day of meltdowns instead of just a few hours.
All in all, he’s an easy child to parent – but it is a challenge, and a big one. We could not be happier to have him in our lives, and wouldn’t change him for the world – but we do want better for him. We would love to have him be self-sufficient and able to live on his own at some point, but realistically, that’s not gonna happen. We are in a great community with awesome resources for him, where he will be able to live in a group home setting, and work in a supervised environment – something he is waiting for with baited breath, and wants to embrace right now. But alas he has to be 18 before that can happen, in just two short years.
Well, that’s some of what Autism looks like in our house – tune in tomorrow for the letter B…
- Study compares traits of autism, schizophrenia (sciencedaily.com)
- Autism Rates Rise to 1 in 88, CDC Says – ABC News (mickiesprogress.blogspot.com)
- Is There an Autism Epidemic? (randi.org)
- Autism Parenting – Chaos at 50 Mph (ventography.wordpress.com)
- Report Now Shows 1 In 54 Boys Are Autistic: Almost a 1000% Increase Since 1980 (deretornoacasa.wordpress.com)