Information for parents of disabled children

Sunday, September 6, 2009

To Stim or not to Stim. That is the Question!

Spinning is fun. We don't have to be auties to know that much. For Darrel, it 's a way of life. The things we do. . . We spin everything. If it goes in circles, we have to try, twice. If it makes colors when we spin it, OMG!

As his parents, teachers, friends, we laugh at the habit. We try to stop the habit. Sometimes, we accept the habit, but it is one of the things that makes us different. When we go out, we're sometimes carrying things to spin. We pick the hill we mean to die on, and spinning isn't usually that hill. Speech might be. Screaming might be, but spinning? No, not this week. Probably, not next week either.

Maybe that's what I wish people knew. We're trying. Hard. However, autism kicks our butts a lot. And it depends who you talk to whether it's somehow our fault. Some people think it's just part of who he is, and we're wrong to change him. Others say we're letting too much slide. Discipline is key.

Autism, for us, is severe enough that I have to pick and choose what we're going to fight for that week, that month. We focus on speech more often than not, and behaviors that alienate him from others like aggression or screaming. However, when we get the well-meaning advice or contemptuous glares from those in our community for whom we are an inconvenience, part of me wants to grab them and shake them. Scream a little myself. Say, "What the Hell would you start with, Lady?! Huh? Just what do you think you could do in my place? Because I could use a spa day. You wanna turn?" The difference between Darrel and myself is that I don't get to say that. God, I want to, but I don't.

Most days the misunderstanding just rolls right off, but some days it's harder. Some days, I woke up thinking about all the things he won't get to do or I'm tired and he's tired. I will admit to occasionally, during the early days when things were REALLY bad, letting my tongue go in a grocery store. Sleep deprivation lowers inhibition. I can't support that statistically, but it's my educated guess.

The good news is that he's better, and it's less of an ordeal (THANK YOU JONI) to go out and do things. The really good news is that he's become pretty aware of when I'm headed for my own meltdown, and Darrel hugs appear to be the cure.

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