Saturday, December 22, 2012

On "Wingin' It," Autism Stylie

Okay, so, I’m Autism Mom again, with a new strategy.

Uhh. I don’t know. Look. My super power is “winging it” okay? So, I don’t know how valuable this super power is in regards to trying to raise an autistic son. But I honestly don’t know if I can take any other approach at this time.

The experts all have their opinions, and I value these opinions, like, crazy. I do. The most helpful people in my son’s life are just amazing. But we’re sorta at a stand still right this very moment, because the two people whose opinions I trust the most sorta think my son is “Good enough” developmentally, so to speak, and since I disagree, I have to sort of blaze my own trail as far as my next move is concerned.

So, here’s where we all stand:

Expert 1- My son’s former BCBA, and director of the school he attended. She doesn’t see IEPs in our future at all, and sees his ability to look to his peers as role models, high social motivation, and fairly age appropriate development across the board as a good sign that he will be able to make it in the real world without any special support. She’s in tune to the fact that I’m a bit of a nervous, yet, permissive parent, and with her super assertive nature, I bet she thinks some straight laced parenting would be all he needs in life to flourish.

Expert 2- My son’s preschool teacher. Dude, she has a fancy degree, and she seems to be able to apply that degree. She knows he’s falling behind his peers socially, and knows that because of his restricted interests, it’s been a challenge to get him to practice many preschool level skills, such as drawing, dressing himself, and using utensils while eating. Still, she thinks practice is the key to success, and doesn’t seem too worried about him overall.

Me – I am skeptical of the “practice makes perfect” approach to social skills. I wasn’t autistic. My language wasn’t delayed at all. My parents had waaaay more money than I do and I was in tons of activities, and was exposed to a LOT more social opportunities than my son, and still, my life was a friggen nightmare, man. In fact, I suspect that children who make inappropriate social attempts without being corrected (because ppl avoid conflict- many kids will just start avoiding an awkward kid, rather than correct their awkwardness) runs the risk of practicing bad social skills over and over agin.

At the same time, he seems to foster good relationships outside his peer group, and it’s worthy of noting! I’m not talking about a weird lil professor who only hangs out with adults, I’m saying, he gets along well with his tween cousins, and he usually finds a friend a few years older (6 or 7) at any place there are children. That being said, it’s very likely that I’m just not that familiar with the complexities of preschool age play, you know? So, uh, either way… I’m not comfortable with leaving it up to “practice.”

Also, I see a problem emerging (or possibly re-emerging.) He seems to be having more vocal stims, and they are very frequent. I see some “attending” issues on the horizon, and I do not know how to deal with them just yet, but I have some approaches in my head, so, not to worry.

And for now, my immediate action plan is to go a little broader, and just bring a little more structure and productivity in our lives. I’m finding it easier to take a lot of Temple Grandin’s advice to heart, when at one point, I think I found her advice a little on the vague side. She wasn’t being vague; she was being “broad.” Heh. I’ll follow up in detail, but for now, my approach is just to stay a little busier, and help him focus his abundance of energy on hands on projects that can serve as good practice for developmental skills. I think this will make it easier for ME as a parent to make sure he stays engaged, as well, as to avoid him spinning and humming in all of his free time.

I know, it’s not much of a plan. But I’m over planning too far in ahead at this point. This aint no game of chess! Okay, at least, I hope it isn’t. I suck so bad at chess.

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