Tuesday, 9 June 2015

A Side of Autism: To Chew or Not To Chew (& USB Ports)

I have absolutely no idea at what age a child is capable of understanding, "This is gum.  Chew it - keep chewing it....but don't swallow it."
A-Man is 3 and hasn't had a piece yet and V-Man (5-years old) has been obsessed lately with USB ports as of recently and trying to get into my bags of gum.
I've caught V-Man once with a piece of gum in his mouth and another en route to his right nostril.
So I removed both pieces and didn't try it again.

Then a couple days ago, he was in my purse and yanking my gum out and trying fiercely to open the zip-lock style bag to get some gum.
I was rushing about packing his stuff for overnight care and on our way out the door, as a treat for his patience - I gave him a piece of gum.
He looked shocked and watched me slip a piece into my mouth, put the bag of gum away and we were off!
It's about a fifteen-minutes walk to overnight care and every thirty seconds or so - I tried to look at his jaw line and his mouth to see if he was still chewing.
"Keep chewing!...Don't swallow it ok!  Keep chewing!  Good job!"
I'm sure anyone looking at us and hearing me cheering V-Man on for chewing gum thought I was one of those crazy overprotective mothers.
You know what?  He did it.  He lasted from our front door to their front door and inside.

Then the gum was gone while I was talking to the care-giver there about his up-coming tubes surgery (round 2) and that's when I had a mild freak out.

Alright, it was bound to get swallowed.  The flavour doesn't last long - it's why I take 2 pieces anyhow - so I can't blame him.

But then we found it!

My 5-year old V-Man smelled dinner was ready and decided to kindly dispose of his chewed up, stringy gum on the counter.  And not just ANY counter but the kitchen counter, where the respite care's scheduling book is...all over that.  Yep.  That's my boy.
Everyone was cool with it and we were just glad it wasn't in anyone's diaper, hair or being choked on!

Oh right, before I end this post - V-Man has been obsessed with USB ports and USB cords.  Usually the cords are my chargers for my phone, my Polar Loop watch and my external battery charger for my phone.
Just in general - pushing buttons on remotes, swiping phone screens and plugging and un-plugging my phone has been the equivalent of a room full of toys for a kid.  And he's figuring out how to use a mouse and a keyboard...there doesn't seem to be any intent with his fiddling about (other than space bar while watching Youtube - he knows it stops it!).

SH was getting constantly angry and I decided to do something about it.  Because he was fitting them in properly but he was constantly doing it and we were worried he was going to break something.
So I bought him a little 4-plug USB port and he was thrilled.  I had a broken iPhone charge cord so he has that and is super content.
I know - not your typical 5-year old's typical toy and probably not even on their wish list...but if it makes him happy and exercises his brain as well (and doesn't hurt anyone) - then why not?

I think the big and sometimes the hardest lesson with a non-verbal autistic child who seems to be showing some talents, in what can be coming off as the most annoying ways - is we need to fulfill those interests in the most positive way possible.  And of course still ensure there's nothing (or body) broken and that there's still guidelines in place.

Quite often the first words out of our mouths when it comes to V-Man climbing or getting into something he shouldn't...is "No."
"Don't do that."  
"Get down."
And in their five billion other formats and similar side-cousin versions of "no".
However I'm learning quickly that "No" = He's going to do it anyway. = Repetition of "No" = frustration because he's not listening.

So I'm trying to find quick solutions that prevent us from sounding like broken record parents and drops the "No" to "Nope pal - let's try this...you can do this...YES."
It certainly isn't easy to say "yes" (or possible) all the time or to find a satisfying alternative for HIM so we can still prevent meltdowns and frustration from both parties.
I think "No" is something that was also drilled into our heads as children and it's also a word that encases love and care (no matter what way you say it) because you don't want the child to hurt themselves or others.

Anyway, we're working on it.  And this summer he seems to be interested in hiking again!  Which is a huge relief because we live in Finland - and there are loads of woods to hike about in and the last two summers he hated it.
This summer, he seems to enjoy it a lot more and seems to want to go out in the woods and even walks Loki with a leash!

I know it might seem hard and probably seems crazy - but all y'all special needs parents - try saying "Okay" or "Yes" every now and again.  For us - it's been alright.
Cheers and good luck!

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