My experiences as a creative person, tutor of children, and teacher of creative writing

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Autistic Babies and Children

Here are some comments by different parents of mildly Autistic children. These children are said to have Asenberger Syndrome.  By "syndrome", they mean a characteristic group of behavior. An example is that most Asenberger children have difficulty dealing with change. It does not mean that they have an illness or anything is "wrong" with them. They are who they are. We each have different strengths and weaknesses. These people often are exceptional on left brain skills such as structure, linear logic, memory for details, math, and spelling. Recognizing behavioral patterns and predicting behavior often is very difficult for these logical, literal people. Their particular personality results in some common behaviors.

I am grouping the comments. Since there are five times more boys than girls that are autistic, most quotes will refer to "he".

"My son is not a diagnosed autistic.  He is odd but only diagnosed with depression.  Also though he is married with children now he doesn't ever seem to get too much fun out of life.  He always sees the negative in everything and rarely the positive."

"Our son would become extremely frustrated when people did not do what he expected them to do. He would go to his room and begin tearing all his pictures off the wall."

From an autistic girl, " I take drugs because that is the only time that I feel 'normal'."

"His older brother, a strong football player, has to pin him down when he becomes violently upset. "

"He does not realize that he pressures and criticizes those around him. He insists that all must be done HIS way and can become violent when it doesn't."

"Our son is often baffled by others 'illogical' behavior. He doesn't understand the social rules and emotions that are involved."

From a confused eight year old autistic boy, "I told them that I would be the quarterback . . . they didn't let me play!"

 "He was an unaffectionate child and didn't like to be hugged or kissed.  I guess he basically didn't much like being touched. "

"He hated to be touched. It took two adults to pin our baby down and change his clothes."

By an autistic young man, "I felt confined and felt I had to be free when someone held me."

"Our daughter did not ever want to be touched. I felt very unloved."

"Our daughter was a premie. She never wanted to be touched."

"He was very competitive with sister. At six months he was nearly as big and strong as she was. People thought I had twins. I tried to watch them every moment, but he still managed to beat his sister. She had bruises all over her legs."
"Our five year old son informed the family that he had the best memory in the family, therefore he should control everyone in the family and all the family resources."

"He also hated to be looked at. He would stand on his toes and point another direction and say, "Ah O! Ah Oh!" He seemed to have no interest in communicating with us. "

"All the family were treated as if we were inferior, didn't think right, and mere things made to serve him. He treated everyone else that way too."

"The kids in the neighborhood would not play with our son. I could not blame them. Whenever they didn't do what he wanted, we could try to beat them into submission by hitting them with anything he could find such as a large shovel or a baseball bat. (no one was hurt)"

"He seemed to have no awareness of others feelings. Consequently, he was often surprised by others reactions to his statements. When he insulted us by letting us know that we were dumb, senile, retarded, maladjusted, deaf, slow, or crazy, he couldn't understand why we were upset. After all, he was just stating facts."

"Our son considered that we were made to make him happy. As he stated, "Why shouldn't I have it! He felt entitled to whatever he wanted."

"Our son saw his parents as selfish if we not give him what he wanted."

"When a toddler, he was not comfortable being around strangers. He would cry when he was taken to the nursery."

"Though he was unable to express feeling verbally, he was always eager to help anyone do something. He has a big heart and is a good person."

"She send me lots of notes of appreciation. Often this was after she had done something wrong. "

"My son had trouble with formula and had bad stomach aches."

"My son also had terrible stomach aches and would cry most of the night.  Perhaps it was how he ate. The only thing he could tolerate was powdered milk. We gave him a large bottle of it and he would crawl (at a very young age) around drinking it. When he got some down he would suddenly throw most of it up. We held a bath towel under him, then gave him more till he was full. Our doctor said not to worry. He he was so strong and healthy that somehow he was getting enough nourishment. (He was supposedly three weeks early and did full chest push ups in the hospital. )"

Note: Among the most common health complaints from children with autism? Gastrointestinal problems. Although estimates vary widely, some studies have concluded that up to 90 percent of children with autism suffer from tummy troubles. According to the CDC, they’re more than 3.5 times more likely to experience chronic diarrhea and constipation than their normally developing peers.

"He had trouble eating, was picky, and would often throw up. He hated any greasy texture like mayonnaise and refused to eat it."

"Our son cried when he was held as a baby. He was ok when he could hold his own bottle."

"He was very sensitive to light and was always turning off the lights in a room"

"My son had little sensitivity to pain. He would stand on the cement driveway, then suddenly fall down onto his knees."

"He was exceptional adept with things. He had great small coordination and could build great lego creations."

"He was very one-sided. When he washed his hair, his left arm hung limply by his side. He mainly used just his right hand when he was young."

"He seemed happy when he had plenty of toys around him and especially when he could move. We had a jumper which attached to the ceiling and had a large spring. I let him jump longer than the instructions said to, but he loved jumping and cried when we took him out. He liked movement of any kind. I would try to push him in the stroller as fast as I could, but it was not enough. He also had to jump constantly. (It was quite the experience to push a jumping stroller.) He is the only kid I know who actually broke out the seat in his stroller!"

"He liked his food extra spicy, his music blaring, and the lights dimmed."

"When he would be odd as a child and I knew something was wrong because by then I had other children who were different, my ex-husband would not accept that anything was wrong with his child and would not give me money to take him to doctors for testing.  I was not working at the time and had no money of my own. "

"Really who would know what to do with an autistic child when the child is first born or in his/her babyhood? It was my first son who was the odd baby which of course made me feel totally incompetent. From the time I was in the hospital with him all the other babies got their near 2 oz. of formula and they all burped. Alan never burped. I didn't know what I was doing wrong. Apparently nothing but I didn't know that. And then since he didn't burp he became colicky which didn't help me much once the baby was home. Naturally that made my second two easy as pie but at 20 years old, which I was when I had him, I felt I was copying everything all other mothers did but it didn't work for my child and I constantly felt I was messing up. "

"It was a long time ago and they didn't so much testing then. I had never heard of Asenberger Syndrome and just thought boys sure were touch to raise. We didn't find out until he was grown."

"My son is not a diagnosed autistic. He is odd but only diagnosed with depression. Also though he is married with children now he doesn't ever seem to get too much fun out of life. He always sees the negative in everything and rarely the positive."

"He was quite a challenge as a baby! Since I'd never been around babies before, I just thought this was how boys were. I wondered how other people managed and I really felt like a failure as a mom."

"My son was never officially diagnosed with autism. After he was grown, my husband and I used to sit behind a young family in church. Their little reminded me so much of our son when he was little. He kept moving, fixed on his task, and didn't respond to them as the wrestled with him. He also didn't speak. When we told them we enjoyed sitting by them, they were surprised because their son was autistic. That really made me think. I did some research and all the pieces seemed to fit."

"His teachers at school kept asking me what was wrong with him, but the only oddity they came up with was that he wasn't paying attention and would stare out the window.  However, when the tried to catch him up by calling on him to answer a question he consistently answered correctly. "

"He was bored and quickly did all the school work-- correctly. His teacher refused to allow him to read saying he needed to remain with his class.  He would just have to sit there until they were finished. We didn't move him to another class because she was the only teacher with strong enough structure and discipline to handle him."

"When the librarian asked if our large-for-his-age four year old son could read, I replied, 'No', then stopped. Who knows what he could do? I turned to him and asked him if he could read. He said, 'I don't know', then picked up an adult book from off the library counter and began to fluently read. We signed him up for the library summer reading program."

"His teacher asked if we were aware that he kept hitting the other children when they didn't do what he wanted. I replied that we were well aware, were working with him constantly, and had even kept him home a year, starting him a year later in Kindergarten."

"Our son cried when there was any change at school."

"He has a nearly photographic memory."

He is "very witty now that he is an adult, but though he may be witty and make you laugh he doesn't ever seem to be able to laugh himself. "

"He learned from his experience and gradually came to understand other people some. He is a good husband and father."

"I never remember ever seeing him laugh."

"He does not really relate, but has useful (to him) connections."

"He always thinks somebody is plotting against him."
"He stays alone in our bedroom and refuses to speak with our seven children."

"He has trouble following company rules and relating to people, therefore he often loses jobs. Now he works for himself and does well."

"He believed that his college teachers didn't know how to teach."

"He got a scholarship to a good college based mainly on his high test score, but quit because he couldn't handle the work and got migraines."

Tangents– "He drew every picture in one color; red. He drew red cars and fire trucks over and over."

"He did whatever he determined to do. When he decided that he wanted to ride a bike, he kept trying hour after hour. Even though his legs were all bruised, he kept running into the fence and falling until he mastered riding a two wheel bike. He never gave up."

"I had to snap my fingers, or clap to get his attention. He had tremendous concentration."

"She incessantly washed her hands and was always worried that things were not clean. She would not take a shower and was afraid of the water."

"He threw the game controls across the room when he couldn't achieve the level he wanted."

"Our son kicked in the side of a metal cabinet when he became frustrated."

"He had to do things over and over to learn. He put things in the electrical plug (and lived), his finger in the crack behind a door and shut it, and his hand on the stove repeatedly until he was sure it would be the same each time."

"I can remember how hurt and frustrated I was that he wouldn't nurse and cried when he was held. He would push away when I had to carry him. It was exhausting to keep from dropping him! It took two of us to literally pin him down and get him ready for bed. In those days we used cloth diapers with sharp pins. When I had to change him by myself, I tackled him, and with my knee across his chest, I would hold him somewhat still while I changed him. He cried but he had to be changed."
"He was happiest when we enforced simple rules. It was like the world was now logical and dependable and he could function."

"He liked to understand how things worked and would often take things apart. Once he found my wind-up wristwatch and asked me what it was. Before I could stop him, he had twisted it so hard that the spring broke. I said it used to be a wristwatch."

"When summer came, he would not give up wearing his snow boots and winter coat with the hood up. He put on his summer shorts, but he always put on his coat and boots to go outside. Fearing heat stroke and seeing the sweat pouring down his face, we finally hid his winter coat and boots in the attic. (about age 4)"

"Our son wanted to wear his winter coat even though it was 113 degrees!"

"There was an assembly that day, so classes needed to be changed. The new schedule was clearly written on the board, but the third grade autistic boy burst into tears."

"Once we felt impressed to come home immediately. We arrived to see our four year old son sobbing on top of our house roof! Our son had put his younger brother there and was trying to convince him to jump off roof, and he (a large teenager) would catch him. He stated that it would be fun!"

"He often felt we were unfair. He thought that he should do what ever he wanted, when he wanted without even telling us where he was going. He could not understand why we would not allow him to come and go as he wanted, so he climbed out his window."

"Our son lived in the moment. He disregarded the past and ignored the future."

"She pushed past me causing me to fall and knock the lamp off the table and break it. She wouldn't help clean up the broken pieces, because I had broken it."

"When our son was around five, I had my hair cut. He was disturbed and asked, 'Mom is that still you?'"

"Our daughter blamed me for everything",  says one mother. "She claimed that everything she forgets, doesn't follow through on, or mistakes she has made, didn't happen. She flatly states that she didn't do it even if she is caught doing it. She even denied that she was pregnant until her seventh month."

"He claims that everyone else is inferior to him and lets them know it. He alone is perfect."

"If he doesn't do well in school, he says that his teachers are dumb. They don't know how to teach. It is their fault that he didn't learn."

"Said to his mother when he was unable to understand my careful explanations, "You don’t think right! You don’t make sense!"

"She would lie and say whatever she wanted things to be. She believed that she couldn't do anything wrong- ever!"

"Our son would not accept that he had debts. They were ours, and we should pay them."

"Our daughter claimed that she did not need to pay us back the the money we had loaned her. She claimed that she had earned her money. It was hers, and she did not owe us anything."

"Holding his crying younger brother up to ceiling, he claimed that brother was 'Having fun!'"

"He could not tell when other people were getting upset and would just keep going until he got yelled at."

'Our daughter stole things to get money, pawned it, was identified, and either denied having stolen it, or she said that we weren't using it, so why not."

"When asked why he used my brand new kitchen hand towel to polish the wax on his car, he pointed out that it was soft and worked well."

"He used whatever he found no matter who it belonged to. As he patiently and logically explained, it belonged to the family, I am the family, therefore it is mine."

"Our son felt that if he had it in his hand, then it was his."

An autistic child is often a challenge but always a joy!  Keep a strong sense of humor, be understanding, accept and appreciate them for who they are, adept environment to their needs, prepare them for change, and most of all love them.