The Now

14 01 2008

My son is now 6-years old and is in Year 1 at a private English school. These are some of his quirks at the age of six:

  • He is obsessed with cars. He counted how many toy cars he has and I think he’s up to 107. (Spoiled, much?) He talks about them constantly. When he’s not talking about them, he’s playing with them. And if he’s not playing with them, lining them up, or talking about them, he’s playing Gran Turismo on the Playstation – not really racing the cars, but going through the menu and looking at all the different cars. He can tell you where each car is manufactured. He knows every make and model. He takes pictures of them with my cell phone and digital camera. Naturally, he has them all lined up on my formal living room couch. When we took him to the Christmas Bazaar last year, he deleted all pictures of people (including him and sister with Santa) and walked around the parking lot to take pictures of car emblems. He also deleted all pictures of people on my Dell laptop and replaced them with car logos. He’s not allowed to be on the computer by himself anymore and I gave him my old cell phone to use for picture taking.
  • I have to constantly tell him to go to the bathroom. Even when he gets up in the morning, I have to remind him to go to the bathroom to pee. On one rather busy morning I forgot, and he ended up holding it all day until he came home from school, and then only after I told him did he go. Last year, he started having “accidents” with bowel movements. He still has accidents on a regular basis. He never flushes the toilet.
  • He still comes to our room in the middle of the night. He told me he senses in his sleep that I’m not with him and that’s why he comes to my room to sleep. This is probably wrong of me, but recently I’ve started sleeping in his bed because the way it was working was leading to none of us getting enough sleep. I’m trying to leave and sleep in my own bed every other night until he gets used to sleeping alone. I don’t know what else to do.
  • He freaks out if a drop of water or food gets on his clothes while eating. He cries and runs up the stairs to change. I’ve been making progress on this by purposely dropping water on my shirt and telling him to see how I don’t make a big deal out of it.
  • He’s extremely picky about eating. At this point we’re down to sandwiches (cream cheese or peanut butter and fluff, only), pizza, chicken nuggets, fries, macaroni and cheese, apples and white rice. When his lunch or dinner is plated, he cannot have different foods touching one another; i.e. fries must not be touching nuggets. Last year we ordered him a “Happy Face” pancake at IHOP and he had a meltdown because they weren’t just pancakes but pancakes with whipped cream on them in the form of a happy face. He will only drink KDD Passion Fruit juice, Actimel or milk.
  • He still flaps his hands/arms when excited or nervous.
  • He wraps tissue (Kleenex) around his fingers (one on each hand) and twists his hands constantly, pretending the tissues are girls. He does this when bored or nervous.
  • He has a hard time focusing on homework and his teacher told me that he has a hard time going from one task to the next.
  • He knows nearly every country in the world, the capitals of each country and their flags.
  • Last year, we were at Chilis having dinner and he got bored, went through my purse, fished out a Stephen King book and started reading it out loud. His reading level is at adult level.
  • He has problems with anger, shouting, moods and sharing.
  • He has an over attachment to one parent (that would be me) and might explain his inability to sleep on his own.
  • He doesn’t like to be cuddled and doesn’t like to be held for too long.
  • It’s hard for him to be loving towards anyone but me. We were shocked when he displayed attachment to my cousin Kerrie last summer. My husband says it’s because we look and act alike. (I don’t know how much we look alike but I often say that Kerrie and I are one soul in two bodies.)
  • He doesn’t like talking on the phone and when he does, he usually shouts or swears.
  • He doesn’t like big loud get-togethers. Birthday or children’s parties are a nightmare.
  • Fire alarms and store security alarms bother him.

I have no idea if any of the above points have anything to do with PDD, I just listed out where we are now with my son. Some things I’ve mentioned are personal and it’s been hard to share them here. I’m doing this to help him, me, and anyone else out there who is dealing with a child with Aspergers/Autism/PDD.

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The Beginning

14 01 2008

My son has Aspergers/PDD-NOS. Before we talk about the now, we have to go back to the beginning.

I knew there was something different about my son since he was an infant. Here are a few things that set off red flags in my head:

  • He had a hard time making eye contact; in fact, he struggled with eye contact. He was always looking up towards the ceiling and not in our eyes. I used to joke with him about it, telling him that he was seeing angels. For a time we thought there was something wrong with his neck and that’s why he had his gaze to the sky most of the time. I would often hold his head in my hands and tell him to look at me. He would get uncomfortable, try his hardest to get out of my grip and would look anywhere except for my eyes. As he grew, he established more eye contact but still has difficulty maintaining it.
  • He never reached out for me. Ever. This was the hardest, as a mother, to deal with.
  • He didn’t learn how to wave goodbye until he was around four years old.
  • Sometimes, if I was tickling his back, he would tell me it hurt.
  • The tags on his clothes bothered him so much, I would have to cut them off.
  • He was obsessed with our ceiling fans.
  • He was obsessed with opening and closing doors. On everything. It got so bad that I had to remove the glass doors of our entertainment center because I was fearful that he would break them.
  • At around 1, a friend of mine gave him a big toy truck. He was more obsessed with the wheels than actually riding the truck. He would sit there for long periods of time just spinning its wheels.
  • He had to take something with him from the house whenever I took him out. Usually it was a onesie. If he forgot to take something with him, he would grab a coin and from the car and bring that with him into the store.
  • He would thrash his head against our tiled floor when angry, upset or frustrated. Sometimes he would bang his head repeatedly on the tiled floor.
  • By the time he was 2, he knew his ABC’s, could count to 20, and knew all shapes including the difficult ones like hexagon, pentagon, octogon, trapezoid. He also knew all car models, store names and logos. By 4 he knew every type of whale and dolphin in existence.
  • He had horrible night terrors and would often wake up screaming bloody murder.
  • Unlike most children, he hated going to birthday parties. He would stand close to me and not participate at all.
  • At around 3 or 4, he developed this habit of taking a tissue (Kleenex), wrapping it around his finger and letting part of it hang down and would constantly twist his hand and say they were girls. He still does this, especially when nervous.
  • Flapping hands/arms.
  • He was (and still is) obsessed with lining things up. It started with lining up all of the lotion bottles in the house. They weren’t just lined up, but perfectly in that the label had to be facing the front. If you disrupted any line-up, he would have a major tantrum.
  • At 3 he built complex structures out of blocks. Again, if was disrupted, he would have a meltdown.
  • At 5 he created a continent named Gibbera, with countries, in his imagination. In Gibbera, they spoke Gibberish, a language he created on his own.
  • Sometimes he wrongly associated words for objects. “Sion” meant chili pepper. “Cash” meant cinnamon bun. “Babasheep” (Baa Baa Black Sheep) meant the symbol for ocean waves. (Each word has its own story behind it which will be discussed later.)

This list will grow but I wanted to point out the major factors that sent up red flags for me as a parent. I suppose the biggest were lack of eye contact, self injury and lining up objects.