He runs to make his mind still, to organize himself and to get rid of the noise from this loud, confusing world. The more he's moved, the more he's introduced patterns and rhythm into his routine. Laps around the house are a daily ritual. He's made it more complex as he's developed, but the basics are the same. There is a pattern of movement -- specific foot patterns based on whatever song or chant he chooses to accompany the run, and he can not be stopped until he is ready to be.

This is James, and this is our story.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dunkin' Go Nuts (or how to react when your ASD child plays typically)

James tried to drown his friend the other day, and I cheered.

OK, that is a bit of an overstatement. James and his friend were horsing around in the water, and I saw James dunk his friend totally under water. And my first reaction was to cheer.

My immediate second reaction was to reprimand him and tell him to never do that again (but inside, I was still cheering a little bit). 

I love his friend. I love his friend's mom, who has become one of my closest friends (see "How D'MAC Found my Voice").   But when you have a child with a disability that makes it very difficult for him to play like his peers, if he does, you cheer.  No matter what it is that he does. 

That's how I knew my friend would be cheering too, even though her boy was the one who went under.

When James was 4, there was an older (7ish?) boy on top of a slide, playing King of the Hill.  He roared at James to get away, with an "I'm not playing with you" scowl on his face. James kept going around the slide, pretending to go towards the boy, giggling and happy.  The boy became increasingly angry and looked like he was about to smack him as he screamed "Get away from here!  You aren't playing!"  I had to quickly grab James and pull him away (I wanted to lash out at the kid, but part of me wondered if he was on the Spectrum also, they were both so clearly missing each other's signals.) 

I worry constantly about how impossible it is for James to interpret what other people mean, and how difficult it is for him to play like a typical kid.  I know as difficult as it is now, it is only going to get harder for him as he grows and social relationships become more complex.

So when I saw James and his friend fighting in the water, getting pushed around, and pushing in return, with the lifeguard intervening and yelling at them, I had to cheer.

I had to cheer because last year I never thought I would see him doing this, and because my friend and I were the only ones at the pool who knew, at that moment, that both our boys had autism.

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