Autism Awareness – A is for Again and Again and Again

Do you know someone with autism?  April is Autism Awareness Month and if you read my post from yesterday  you may already know that I have a 15 year old with autism .  If not, it’s here.  In it I wrote my version of an acronym for the word autism.  My goal for the entire month is to write posts that will raise awareness, make you laugh, or teach you something along the way through telling stories of our everyday life as a family with autism.  Today, I want to elaborate on the “a” in my acronym which was again and again and again.  This is a trait in my son for sure and probably a trait in many children on the autism spectrum.  They need to hear things, see things or do things repeatedly.  Sometimes it is for self-stimulatory reasons and other times it might be for comfort.  In Cody’s case, depending on the day, it could be a combination of the two. 
I will share a few examples here with you of what this behavior looks like in our home. 

~Every weekday morning we go through the same “script” before he leaves for school.  He asks where I am going.  I tell him.  He asks “why?”  I respond.  Then he asks the same for every member of the family.(it’s a good thing there are only 3 of us other than him or it could take a while).  The answers are pretty much the same every day, but he just needs to go through this process and somehow, I think, it puts his mind at ease.  He leaves for school on a happy note.

~Another example is when he watches a video that he enjoys.  He will watch it over and over again.  Play, rewind.  Play, rewind.  We have gone through several VCRs(you know those machines that played “tapes” for movies), a couple of DVD players and lost a few movies along the way.  Now much of what he watches is internet based, so we have to gently remind him that the constant button pushing isn’t good for his computer. 

~Another repetitive behavior of Cody’s is rocking.  Sometimes you think that the chair he is in will go right through the wall behind him because of his rocking.  Unfortunately, this is a strong internal need for him so as much as we constantly remind him he has to slow it down, it really is difficult for him. We like our furniture, though, so we do have to be firm sometimes.  You would think he’d sleep better at night with this kind of physical movement so much of the day, but he doesn’t. (that’s a post for another day) Something that is similar to the rocking movement is hand flapping.  If you have been around a child with autism chances are, you have seen one or both of these self-stimulatory types of behavior.  Again, I don’t know how Cody isn’t exhausted at the end of the day.  I have  literally sat and done the hand flapping motion for about 30 seconds(if that) and it wears me out. (okay, so I am out of shape, but you get the point)
So, there’s your glimpse for the day, into our world as it pertains to autism.  For us, it has just become our normal since Cody is now 15 years old, but for someone looking in from the outside, it can all look very odd.  I hope I have given you a little insight to take away for the time you are in the presence of someone on the autism spectrum.

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