20 Autism Observations

Kaeden has been home from school for 10 days now and we have 7 to go. He got an extra-long vacation with parent teacher conferences falling on the last two school days before Christmas vacation. As much as I enjoy having him home, it's very tiring having him here THIS much. He isn't the easiest of kids.

Here are just a few observations I have made concerning him in the past week:

1) When there is no school, Kaeden is up bright and early in the morning. Instead of understanding the concept of sleeping in during break, he springs out of bed before the first light. And on school days it's the msot difficult part of the day to get him out of bed and ready.

2) Kaeden can not find anything for himself to do, unless it involves a huge mess. In general, if I do not 'play' with him, he doesn't do anything other than watch tv or play a computer game. He has a difficult time figuring out what to do, and even after suggestions he won't do it alone.

3) Kaeden is the absolute most messy person I have ever come across. If he pours himself a drink it takes 3 glasses, 5 spoons, a blender, and a couple bowls...plus drips across the floor and counters covered in spills. When he gets dressed he has 5 shirts, 3 pants, etc...and his dirties are left scattered where he walks as he goes.

4) Kaeden's clothing choices leave something to be desired. He can't figure out what clothes to wear regarding the temperature. Most of his short-sleeved shirts are gone for winter, but the few there he will be sure to find.

5) Blankets. I can't tell you how many blankets I pick up in a days time. I know this relates to his need for pressure and weight to ease his discomfort, but still.

6) The tv must be on extra-loud. I remember back to when he was 2 and I had his hearing tested. One of my first worries with him, and one of my first clues into autism, though that came years later. Certain sounds he can't handle even slightly, but if the tv isn't blaring, it's as if it's not on.

7) Kaeden can't get through an hour without teasing. He does this just to get a reaction. He knows which buttons to push, and does his best to accomplish it.

8) Kaeden's voice mimics the tv. It is LOUD. And the more excited he is, he louder his voice becomes. He can't regulate his voice.

9) Kaeden's eating habits are atrocious. He hums with each bite he takes, and shovels in his food as fast as he can. He grabs at food to get the last morsel, even if there is only a little of something left. He eats enough food for 10 people, and prefers his fingers to silverware. Also, wherever he eats looks as if a baby were sitting there as it's the messiest place at the kitchen table.

10) Kaeden cries at the drop of a hat, he gets angry at the drop of a aht, and he laughs at the drop of a hat. His emotions are so sudden that you never know what to expect in any given moment.

11) Kaeden is very egotistical. As much as I call him the most giving person in the world, which he is, he also cares nothing about others if it will benefit him. He believes that the world is meant to circle around his wants and wishes, and he does whatever it takes to make that happen.

12) Kaeden's conversation skills are getting harder to decipher as he gets older. He speaks through you, not listening to what you are saying and continues to speak one-sided until every thought of his is used up. You cannot reason with him at all.

13) Kaeden loves music. It doesn't much matter what kind of music: radio, MTV, cd-player...he sincerely enjoys it. And he likes it loud.

14) Kaeden's entire existence revolves around the cost of things. He places a monetary value on everything. Opening Christmas gifts he chose for us, he relayed the cost of each gift. He tries to decipher what is a good deal, but he doesn't understand the concept of cost verus value.

15) Kaeden loves hugs. And often these hugs are a jump into mama's arms kind of hug, though he is now nearly a man. Hanging on mama is a favorite pasttime. I continually remind him that I love hugs, but he's getting too big to hang on me...it hurts. He doesn't quite grasp hurting.

16) Kaeden can take a lot of pain without being bothered. If he has something seriously wrong, I often don't know it for quite some time as he can manage pain well. On the other hand, if he has a little teeny tiny owwie, it's as if death is standing at our door. A scratch can send him over the edge, and nothing but 20 bandaids can put his discomfort at ease.

17) Kaeden's eyes are easy to read. When I look at him, I can see right into his feelings. His eyes tell a story, and though I don't often know what to do about how he is feeling, I can often tell in the clarity of his eyes.

18) Kaeden cannot get into the car without there being some issue. Whether it is to go soemplace he wants to go (has even asked to go), or someplace we need to go, the car is sure to bring on some kind of intrusion in his life...and he reacts to this, by either bringing along blankets and a sack of his treasures, putting up a fight, or teasing.

19) Kaeden cannot fall asleep. Whether I put him to bed at 8 or 10, he is always up a minimum of 2 hours before sleep overcomes him. He doesn't fall asleep easily.

20) Kaeden is autistic. He was diagnosed with autism at age 8. At age nearly 14 (oh my GAWD!) he hasn't progressed all that much. He still seems like a little kid in so many ways. He is physically growing into a man, but mentally he remains a child. Sometimes I just wish he would grow up and act his age. Other times I am happy he is able to enjoy the freesom of childhood a bit longer. But it scares me, because what do our futures look like if he doesn't progress.

These are a few observations I have made being with him 24/7 for the past week. They are things that I have lived with and known as a part of my life, but explode when you're forced to encompass them day in and day out. Autism is hard. I'm not saying that to be negative. It is really, really tough being a parent of an autistic child. You try to do your best, but it never really seems as if it is the best. It is living in a constant state of stress and there comes no relaxation, until it's at the point of complete shutdown. I love my son more than the moon and sun and all the stars in the sky. And I am glad he is in my life, and I ahve learned a heap about life because of him. But autism isn't easy...on him or on me or my family. These are 20 of the 200 observations i have made. Just give autism a thought...what is it like for that child or his family? And save your judgements for people who really aren't livng day in day out with these stressors already pressingon their lives.


Alison said...

this is an excellant post Tera..it is a glimpse into living with an autistic child. I admire you for your honesty and I admire you for your strength...you are an amazing woman and Mom.

Jade said...

Happy New Years my dear friend! I hope you're having a great time right now with your hubby and boys. Its getting pretty close to being 09 there right now :-)

After reading this post I so want to come to your house and run lessons with your little man. Soooo many of the things you listed are addressed in the sessions I have with my kids. We really do need to connect and talk on the phone. We need to set a date and time where I can just sit there and stare at the phone until it rings. Hehe I think I might be able to give you some useful suggestions in addressing some of those things if I had just a little more info. So.... Lets shoot for talking in 09! :-)

Have a great New Years girly and here's to a great 2009!

V-Grrrl said...

It is like having a toddler trapped in a big kid's body. I can't imagine how exhausting it is to navigate this world daily. When we're dealing with very young children, we endure the more taxing parts of their care more easily because we know they are growing and developing quickly and the Issues of the Day will pass and be left behind. It sounds like you accummulate issues rather than leave them behind.

Much love to you and your boy. Strength!