Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Autism is not an excuse...

Xander was puh-issed at me yesterday morning. We made the decision that he needed to start eating in the kitchen (which he hasn't done in over a year). He kicked, screamed and then tried to injure himself, first with a pen, then with his toast and finally by hitting himself. Not happy in the least. He finally calmed down some and ate his breakfast while bitching the whole time. I was so happy when the school bus came. Thank goodness he has a wonderful bus driver who won't let him get away with anything.

One of my big pet peeves is someone using his/her child's autism as an excuse for bad behavior. There's a difference between misbehaving and autistic behavior. Xander was misbehaving when he fought, kicking and screaming, eating in the kitchen. He reacted with autistic behavior, which was self-injury. I'm not doing Xander any good by letting him get away with things because of the way he might react. I still made him eat at the table last night and today knowing he may have an adverse reaction. It can be very difficult because I hate it when he has a melt-down. I still stick to my guns.

I never punish Xander for sensory reactions. He can't handle certain sounds and he can't control that. I love that he flaps and spins when he's happy or excited. He can, however, control how close he gets to people or how loudly he speaks. I just need to remind him, nicely but firmly, that he shouldn't touch people he doesn't know or yell loudly about how the boy in the next aisle needs a time-out (which I think is hilarious, but I don't let him know that). I wouldn't let Spencer get away with such behaviors so why should I let Xander?

I'm sorry if this seems like a lecture; I live in an area with a large autism community and there are parents that allow their children to get a way with anything because they have autism. I understand it's hard, BELIEVE me, I do; however, letting a child grab people's food or throw things on the floor at a store because one is afraid of his/her child's reaction is rewarding bad behavior. A neurotypical child will do the same thing if they think they can get away with it with no repercussions. I absolutely agree with Temple Grandin that teaching a child good manners is one of the most important things you can do for him or her.
Xander ate dinner in the kitchen last night and for breakfast this a.m. with no fight. He was a little annoyed when we made him wait 'til everyone else was done before excusing him.