Sometimes, I get so wrapped up in the classification and response to Autistic or sensory-seeking behavior that I forget my son is also just a little boy. Boys! They are traditionally single-focused by nature, mechanically curious, and frankly, they do a LOT of things without thinking of consequences. In fact, people love to ask me, “When did you know he was Autistic?” If I had a nickel… Honestly, I didn’t know there was a need to explore his mind until disruptive situations in pre-school began to present themselves. Why?
I had a girl first.
There are so many quirky behaviors that I absolutely can see now in hindsight; at the time I dismissed them as classic boy tendencies. After all, I have brothers. The difference being that mine were downright evil during childhood ; ) Doggie-doo down the back of my shirt, rocks at the core of well-packed snowballs… yes, pure brotherly evil. But I digress.
There were things I struggled with when my son was a toddler. Constant obsession with light switches, no visible fear from dangerous situations, disassembling an electrical outlet with his bare hands when thought to be in time-out, extreme hyperactivity, and more. Half the people in my life would tell me I should have him tested for something and the other half would say he was just being a typical boy. I had no firm evidence or experience to fall on either side of that fence. So I waited.
I’ve walked the wondrous Autism road for the past four years – filled with research and questions and tests and observations – and I still struggle with that fence from time to time. My goal is to find that place where I am giving him support for the things he cannot do for himself and creating appropriate boundaries and lessons for the things he can control. What a grey area that is! It’s gotten easier with so much information at my disposal, but every child on the spectrum is unique.
It is understandable that I turn to a checklist, a practiced response, or even an excuse when there are any waves in my house. When living with Autism day in and day out, when my routine is so labor-intensive, and going out to dinner (and actually completing my meal) makes me feel as accomplished as an Olympic medalist, I see why I am wrapped up in his special needs and odd behaviors.
Sometimes I need to take a step back and realize that he is just being a little boy.
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