Thursday, 8 October 2015

A Side of Autism: Phases

I went to a parent/teacher/therapist meeting today and it was awesome.
It was long (about 2 hours) but it was well worth it because I learned a lot of things about the V-Man's newer habits at school.
In Finland, children start the year they turn 7 years old but because V-Man is diagnosed with autism - he gets to start a year early - with the aims of graduating at the same time as his peers of the same age, who would start at 7.

Out of nowhere and near the end of the meeting, I had a light bulb moment.  A real "OMG I totally forgot he did that moment!"
So I thought it'd be cool to make a quick video of some of his more memorable phases and list here in this blog - as many of the phases he's gone through since being born.
Of course they might not apply to all children - autistic or not - but I found it really interesting!
My goal is to keep my videos 10 minutes long or less - hence this longer blog post! :)

  • From birth to almost 1 year old:  V-Man absolutely could not be tolerated being held by the Hubster or anyone but me.  Unless he was nearly asleep, I had no freedom.  He didn't take a soother or a bottle ever.  Boob juice all the way.
  • Physical contact was hard for V-Man.  He didn't care for anyone touching him, holding his hand or being held in someone else's lap.
    • Now, he quite enjoys being cuddled a bit - on his own terms - and will grab random strangers hands.  Or bums.  That's awkward on the bus...
  • He was potty trained (both #1 and #2) between 6-months old and 9-months.  Then he had an abscess on his rear end and absolutely refused to sit on a potty.  There went that out the window.
  • He has been obsessed since he was 1.5 years  old with rubbing breasts and chests.  I truly think it's just a cause and effect reaction for him.  Not only the cause and effect of someone telling him "No - don't do that" after rubbing someone's chest but also the skin to t-shirt contact.  The fact that if you rub a nipple (let's just be blunt here) the skin gets hard.  But it's harder for him to get the same physical reaction from a woman because they're usually wearing bras.  
  • Watching Disney Cars DVD - we're on our third copy.  
    • Dear Disney, thanks to you changing the cover of the DVD - V-Man refuses to watch it now.  Despite the fact that nothing else changed otherwise.
  • Watching Shrek 1-4 - he loves them all. But I think the first three films are his favourite.
  • Biting/Chewing clothing and people - either his clothing or us - we ended this by buying him a really soft bunny on a string with a strong clip to attach to his coat/shirt.  Whenever he threatened to bite - we just popped that bunny in his mouth and he chomped hard on that instead.
  • Grinding his teeth was my "OMG" moment this morning during our meeting and I just realized that he hadn't ground his teeth in ages!!!  He is a loud and hard grinder and his front tooth is actually chipped from grinding his teeth.  The dentist said there's nothing we can do but get him to use a mouth guard (yeah - that's not happening!) and hopefully he grows out of this phase before his adult teeth settle in!
  • Poor diet: He could tell the difference between Chiquita and Dole or store-branded bananas.  He only ate bananas, yoghurt, bread, French fries, crackers and certain kind of burgers from a local chain.  That was the extent of his protein/meat intake.  Once we got him into a wonderful specialized day-care - he learned how to taste new foods and become a toddler/child with a teenager x5-sized appetite!
  • Still doesn't like blood tests, needles, doctors or nurses.  He had a rough first blood test when he was younger and it was something out of a nightmare - blood squirting everywhere and 3 nurses plus myself holding down a 2-year old little boy.
  • Jumping - enough said.
  • Dropping breakfast on our face - to wake us up he'd bring either: bread, bunch of bananas, butter or an empty glass if he was thirsty and because our bed was against the wall - 1 parent got un-lucky with the V-Man alarm clock.
  • Running away/wearing a safety harness - Here's the original blog post and a video to go with it.  
  • Climbing - he still does.  He can get on wall radiators and arrange furniture just right for his climbing needs.  So far - no broken bones. *KNOCK ON WOOD*
  • Not sleeping - this phase has passed I think - thanks to the wonders of Melatonin (an over the counter sleeping aid).  And he even sleeps in his own bed which just took persistence and ensuring A-Man went to sleep after V-Man did so it was nearly silent.
  • He did this on his own. 5-years old
    • Ear Infections were an issue from 1.5-years to recently.  Thanks to tubes surgery - he is able to sleep better.  Oh and probably because his nose is clear too...remember that orange booger?
    • Ear infections do seem to be a common thing among youngsters with autism - just a trend I've noticed in reading other blogs, books and so on.
      ** Not a medical expert - just a Mom. **
  • Slapping himself when angered/not getting enough attention or what he wants or when siblings scream:  the difficulty with this one is I get frustrated pretty easily and I'll admit - while spanking a child is illegal here - I feel like absolute crap for wanting to spank a child who IS screaming the roof off and driving my head into the ground with a pounding headache - but there's absolutely no point because he's already slapping himself harder than adults slap each other.  Anyway, that and I'm trying my hardest to approach my kids temper tantrums with a calmer mindset.  The other issue with that is that if we try to give him something to hold that has texture - to use as a distraction - it doesn't work.  He still slaps himself like crazy with it.  
    • I'm sure my neighbours (we haven't met) think we're beating the crap out of him - but I swear we're not.  He's a 1-man show that one!
  • Sniffing and touching with his lips:  this sensory test can be your skin, your clothing, new food, food he's used to - anything.
  • Escaping: V-Man seems to have the tendency to know how to escape any place.  Whenever he arrives somewhere he immediately scans the room for all the potential exits.  This is a major issue because he does run away - we have to be extremely careful where we visit (i.e. playgrounds and people's homes or BBQ parties) and unfortunately, have kept those to a bare minimum.  We have a fire pit in our yard and haven't used it since moving here nearly three years ago because there's no fenced in area for him to run about.  

    • His new thing, is that when he's bored - he grabs his shoes and leaves.  It means he needs a break from us, from the humming of the computer I suppose and just needs a personal time-out.  So Hubster will grab the leash and Loki (who has his own YouTube video by the way) and they all go hiking together and I've noticed when V-Man returns - he's calmer and happier.
  • Another new thing is that when he's returning from overnight care - he likes to carry his own backpack (which does have some weight to it!) and he'll even carry his own booster seat (for the taxi) home!  It's about a 15-minutes walk from our home - so I'm thrilled he's interested in helping out!
  • He's interested in chores: V-Man enjoys putting the dishes in the dishwasher - it's not perfect but it's the effort that counts!  He likes putting soap in the dishwasher, and in the washing machine (he was being too quiet - that was the first sign...) and "hanging laundry", and cooking!  He tries to stir food and likes to sniff spices. :)
I'm curious what other phases or trends he'll go through :).

Anyways, the kids are getting rowdy (V-Man is already out like a light) - so I better sign off and prep for the next video! :)

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