If your child has autism you may be familiar with the term ‘challenging behaviour’.
My son has autism and presents us with challenging behaviour on a daily basis.
It used to be termed as ‘problem behaviour’ or ‘socially unacceptable behaviour’ but that implied that the child was at fault – a problem to be fixed.
Challenging behaviour such as kicking, pinching, hitting etc could be due to communication difficulties, changes in routine, too much stimulus, too little stimulus, difficulties with waiting and taking turns and feeling unwell.
The challenge is in how we as parents, carers and teachers deal with it.
S was very young when I realised something was different. This post was written just before his fourth birthday and explains how we came to the conclusion that he might be autistic.
He was subsequently diagnosed with autism and sensory processing disorder shortly before his 5th birthday.
He has daily ‘melt downs’ and could give any teen a run for their money with his door slamming skills.
You can’t cure autism. It is a lifelong condition but it can be positively managed and that’s where the challenge is.
Parenting a child with autism can be physically and mentally exhausting.
I have had a few Grandmaster Flash, “Don’t push me cause I’m close to the eeeeedge I’m try-ing not to lose my head uh huh huh” moments but usually a few deep breaths and a slow headbanging session sorts me out.
It can also be incredibly rewarding.
It’s my job to recognise his triggers as best I can.
It’s my job to see when he is becoming overstimulated and adapt things in order to calm him down.
It’s my job to learn as much as I can about autism and him.
It’s my job to take the judgmental stares, the complaints and the assumptions and deal with it.
It’s my job to make sure that he (and we) get all the support we need.
It’s my job to see that he develops the necessary skills not only to cope, but to thrive in an overwhelming world.
It’s my job to make sure that he reaches his potential.
It’s my duty to make sure that he is the best he can be.
It’s a privilege to be his mother.
The negative side to his autism are the behavioural issues.
The positive side is that he never fails to amaze me. His photographic memory is nothing short of awesome.
When he laughs, he really laughs. My child doesn’t ‘suffer’ from autism, he is a very happy little boy!
He carries his numbers about in his pink handbag and he’s oblivious to the stares. One blessing is that he can’t comprehend that some ignorant twats are laughing at him. He thinks they are laughing with him. I know who I would rather fill the world with..
Five year olds are expected to be able to count up to 100 and know their 2, 5 and 10 times table. He’s been able to count to 100 for the last two years and knows the entire 12 times table off by heart. He can’t put his shoes on without help or hold a pencil properly but he’s a number machine!
Part of the challenge is to find ways to calm him down, especially in social situations. It’s trial and error.
His teachers recently realised that he was interested in the chicks and when he became overwhelmed in class, his support teacher would take him to sit by the tank. She kindly took these pictures to show us.
The last four weeks have been incredibly challenging due it being the school holidays.
I have a few more grey hairs than I started the holidays with.
And the twitch is back!
Earlier in the week he ran out in front of a car that was driving onto the garage forecourt because he’d had ten minutes of stimulation. Children with autism can be ‘runners’ where they can slip away from sight in a few seconds. He got upset, not because of the car, but because I screamed out as I grabbed him. One moment of distraction is all it takes..
A bus ride last week was another occasion where we over estimated his level of tolerance. He loved the ride but when we got off, he couldn’t stand any noise at all and we had to go straight back home.
That’s the hard part for me, knowing that the enjoyable things in life do his head in and end in melt-down.
On reflection, a shorter journey with an instant turnaround would have been better. It’s important that he experiences ‘normal’ things but small steps are essential.
It’s a continual learning curve for us as a family.
Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we get it wrong. But in making mistakes, we are learning. That’s not unique to autism – that’s life.
With the challenges come the rewards of seeing our little dude make progress and thrive – especially socially.
I have sensory issues so part of the challenge is pushing myself beyond my limits but I am a mother first. I overcome because I need to – for him.
The positive to this is that I understand my son in a way that most people can’t and in turn it’s helped me to understand myself. I don’t just sympathise, I empathise.
Some days it feels like an impossible task but I remind myself that the goal is my son’s future and that gives me the strength to keep going.
Thank you for reading.
This is my quest, to follow that star
No matter how hopeless,
No matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into hell
For a heavenly cause.
The Impossible Dream ~ Elvis Presley – written by Mitch Leigh, Joe Darion
This post is part of Sara at mumturnedmom’s linky.