Is this autism or NT kid-stuff?

NT: an abbreviation for neuro-typical, a term often used in the autism community to reference those who are not on the spectrum.

Ever since my four year-old’s diagnosis of ASD over eight months ago, I find myself constantly wondering, “Is this behavior the effects of autism or just a kid being a kid?”

Self-doubt and motherly instinct are in a constant battle of wits these days.

I don’t just ask myself this question.  I ask my husband, my friends, my parents, my son’s army of teachers and therapists.  Naturally, I get a different response, depending on the person (and the scenario I’m describing).  Let’s see what you think:

Big C is head-butting a group of girls at school.    Autism or NT?

Big C suddenly asks, “What’d you say?” to virtually EVERY demand I place.   Autism or NT?

Big C told his Occupational Therapist very matter-of-factly, “I’m going to kill you.”  Autism or NT?

Big C has a sudden preoccupation with dying and is starting to say, “I’m dead,” though I am very certain he has no idea what this actually means.  Autism or NT?

Big C is having a destructive streak, ripping wall decals, blinds, and picture frames off the walls.  When asked, “why?” (which I’m told is really too advanced of a question for a four year-old in this type of situation) he merely replies, “I don’t like it.”  Autism or NT?

Big C is becoming defiant again, telling me, “No!” and back-talking me constantly.  Autism or NT?

Big C is obsessed with winning.  He has to be the first one up the stairs, the first to open the door, the first at every game.  When he’s not, he has an over-the-top screaming, crying, temper tantrum.  Autism or NT?

Big C is incapable of walking through the grocery store without running his hand along every item on the shelves.  Autism or NT?

While Big C’s 19-month old brother is eager to play catch with him, Big C would rather take the ball and run away, keeping it for himself.  Autism or NT?

While in the urgent care waiting room, our 19-month old son is content to sit and play cars, while Big C is literally trying to climb the walls, settling for my husband’s back, ripping the leaves off the fake plants, and taking the toy cars from his younger brother (now both are wailing), all while the older couple sitting in the waiting room gives us death glares.  Autism or NT?

Essentially, it’s all very muddled and confusing and full of blurred lines, begging the potentially more important question, “Does it matter?”

Certainly, getting at the root of a behavior can help, but in many situations, there’s no “fix” or “quick” solution.  My son is my son, autism label or not.  He’s always going to leave me in wondrous awe (and perpetual frustration).

Any other moms out there wish they had supernatural intuition?

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Why does my Toddler Hate Me?

Jealousy: resentment against a rival (ahem, husband) who enjoys success (ahem, our toddler’s favoriteagainst another’s success (or lack thereof.  The boy always picks his Daddy).

My 18-month old son is starting to give me a complex, people.  A genuine complex.

I’ve been waiting for this whole “Daddy” phase to become just that – a phase – but it’s been months now, with no end in sight.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I love that my husband and youngest son have this amazing bond.  It’s sweet.  It’s adorable.

BUT….

Does the child have to blatantly show his distaste for me?

Think I’m exaggerating?  Allow me to prove myself with a few poignant examples:

Daddy has to leave to run some errands.  Little C is so distraught Daddy has left, he flings himself upon the floor and will not let me console him.  He cries for upwards of 20 minutes.  He is struggling so hard to get away from my clutches, I nearly drop him on more one occasion.

Daddy isn’t home from work yet, so Little C is actually giving me the time of a day with a big ol’ bear hug. Cue Daddy’s entrance.  Little C leaps out of my arms so quickly you’d think I pinched him.  Sayonara Mommy.  Daddy’s home.

The whole family is relaxing on the floor playing with Mega Bloks.  I scooch over beside Little C to help him with the tower he’s building.  He stops what he’s doing.  He makes an angry scowl directed at me, picks up his tower, and promptly plops down beside Daddy.  I swear to God he smirks.

I’m in the kitchen.  Little C is playing with a toy car a few feet away.  Daddy is in the living room, out of sight, out of mind.  Little C suddenly slips and falls, banging his head on the floor.  I immediately drop what I’m doing, rushing to his aid.  As I begin to hold him in my arms, he looks at me – there’s that scowl again – then runs across the house to Daddy’s arms.

I notice Little C perusing the bookshelf.  I sit beside him and ask him if he’d like me to read him a story.  He gives me that telltale scowl, then saunters over to Daddy.  Once he’s in Daddy’s lap, he looks at me, eyebrows narrowed, then hugs Daddy.

Wtf?

Don’t get me wrong.  At times, it’s kind of convenient that the little guy wants Daddy.  Considering we have two attention-seeking boys, this often makes life easier, and even occasionally allows me five minutes of “me time,” (which we all know just means doing the dishes in peace or making lunches without a little munchkin clinging to my legs.  Am I right, ladies?).

If I’m being perfectly honest though, the Mommy pride is a little hurt.  Sometimes, it’s a lot hurt.

Am I the only mother experiencing this?

Don’t leave me hangin,’ Mamas!


Valocity Studios / Foter / CC BY-SA

 

 

Autism and Potty Voodoo

In regards to potty training, Big C has actually had a fairly easy time mastering the toilet. I attribute it to his independent and strong-willed nature.  He wants to be more self-sufficient, so that means learning to use the toilet.

With that strong will comes a strong determination as to when he should and should not have to go.  Case in point, he hates going to the bathroom when he first wakes up, even though he often wakes up with dry Pull-Ups.  Even though I know he has to go.  It’s a battle nearly every morning.  He throws a fit.  His anger escalates from 0 to 100 in seconds.  I’m lucky my husband bears the brunt of it as he takes the “morning shift” since he often works late.  After the battle of wills, Big C always goes potty, but his ego, battered and bruised, refuses to admit it was a good idea.

I give you this back story so you can fully appreciate what I tell you next because it’s nothing short of miraculous.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that Big C is my three year-old little guy diagnosed with ASD.  If you read my most recent post, you also know I’m a teacher, and as we all know, summer is almost here.  While I’m quite excited, I’m also quite nervous because any disruption in Big C’s schedule causes stress for him which causes stress for the entire family, and this summer will mean some large changes in his routine.

To help him cope with this and maintain consistency, I’ve gotten some help with the support staff at his school to set up a visual schedule.  I’ll provide more details in a later post (because I’ve already fallen in love with it and have so much more to say).  Basically though, it’s like a day planner, only it’s made up of little pictures and velcro so Big C can move the activity pictures from the left strip of velcro to the right strip of velcro once he’s ready to do the next activity.  The activities are lined up chronologically from top to bottom, and he has to follow that order.  The concept is that by knowing what’s coming next, anxiety will be alleviated and a sense of control will be gained.

I decided to start using the visual schedule this past Sunday.  I was told they had one at school and that he would be familiar with it.  I was nervous though, because at the very top of the schedule was the “Go Potty” card.  I debated leaving it off completely just to avoid the meltdown, but I reminded myself the entire point of this was to reduce the meltdown.

Tentatively, at 6:00 am, I handed the laminated, yellow file folder to my early riser.  He immediately smiled brightly and knowingly.  I asked him, “What’s the first thing we need to do today?”

“Go potty!” he shouted triumphantly, and then he ran and went potty.

Well, I’ll be damned.  He won’t listen to me, but he’ll follow the directive of a 1 x 1 picture of a toilet.

I thought to myself, it’s a fluke.  I need to play this out.

No issues the entire day.

Then, this evening, when I told Big C he could out for a bike ride with Daddy Catharsis, he consulted his schedule, unprompted, and said, “Wait.  I have to go potty first.”

Voodoo, I tell you.  Voodoo.

 

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The Magical Potty Card

 

 

 

12 Signs you’re a Working Mom

Exhaustion:
1. a state of extreme physical or mental fatigue.
2. the action or state of using something up or of being used up completely.

Yep.  That about sums it up.

After the week — hell, who am I kidding — after the year I’ve had, this list was in the making.

12 Signs You’re a Working Mom

1. You’ve taken 10 sick days this year and not a single one was for you.

2. When you actually are sick, you go to work anyway because you don’t have any sick days left.

3. When your work day is done, there is a brief nanosecond of relief, followed by the impending reality that you’re off to your “second” full-time job which has way more demanding “employees.”

4. You find ways to avoid picking up your children from daycare, just to get five more minutes of time for yourself, even though those five minutes are often spent running errands or, in my case, grading papers (Gasp!  Did she just say she’d rather grade papers than pick up her kids?  Blasphemy, I know.)

5. Take-out night is a must, minimally once a week.  This is not to be confused with pizza delivery night.

6. You find yourself, in the middle of the afternoon, pulling into the back of the Target parking lot, setting your phone alarm for ten minutes, and taking a quick snooze.

7. Your idea of “downtime” is grocery shopping at 7 pm (when you finally have the time) without the kids.

8. Your fridge is full of wine (pick your poison).

9. Your ideal Saturday night is being in bed by 8 pm watching Netflix (because the thought of staying out past midnight to hang with friends sounds like way too much effort, and the kids are still getting up by 6 am, your schedule be damned).

10. You realize you’ve gone a week without actually talking to your husband (requests, demands, complaints, and reminders don’t count).

11. You realize you’ve run out of wine and you legitimately start lamenting your pitiful existence.

12. When the kids are finally down for the night,  all you want is to not speak to anyone, so when your husband finally wants to catch up with you on the day or, God forbid, snuggle, you blast him with the lasers shooting out of your eye sockets.

*Bonus*

A sign you’re a working mom of a child with special needs:

Add in at least a couple of hours a week of therapy for your child.

sleep.

Hey, Mommy Catharsis, why only 12 signs?  Wouldn’t 15 have a better ring to it?

Sure would!  Thing is, I’m tired, and it’s late, and I’m almost out of wine.  Do a fellow mom a solid and add to the list in the comments.  I promise I’ll thank ya’ for it!

This post also appears on Sammiches and Psych Meds.