So what can all of that sensory over/under stimulation cause? Many children (including my own) experience this sensory over/under load and can lead them further onto the spectrum. In short, the difficulties they experience lead them to have behaviors more closely related to Asperger’s or ‘Classic Autism.’
This is just one reason we work so hard to keep Tucker’s sensory difficulties at a minimum. When he struggles to sort out and make sense of the input he runs into even more social, emotional, play and self-regulation issues.
I knew I had to write about this after last night. My parents came to visit. Trust me, I LOVE it when they come to visit. I’m always sad when they leave and often think about stealing their keys so they are forced to spend the night. I don’t live that far away (a little over an hour), but I certainly don’t get to see them enough.
Like any parent you want your child and your parent(s) to have a wonderful relationship. Some of my fondest memories involve my grandparents. Last week an editor contacted me to write a small article about autism for his magazine. His message included a lengthy explanation of knowing (and having fond memories of) my grandparents. As I read it, I sobbed – couldn’t even get through it. My poor husband was trying to make sense of the words between my sniffles and gasps. I was so touched and all of my memories with them became flooding back.
I was reminded of making pies with my Grandma, riding with Grandpa in the combine, eating peanuts and candy corn, always having Cap’n Crunch and Tang for breakfast, eating carrot’wiches, Grandma reaching things on high shelves with knives, Grandpa spraying us with the garden hose whenever possible, wrapping presents and decorating their tree, eating in front of the television, and most of all the comforting tick-tock of their clock on sleepover nights.
Truly the emotional impact of love and loss within five minutes – sometimes that is a tough one to bear. Also one that comes unexpectedly, yet often when you have a child on the spectrum.
When Tucker’s grandparents left I looked at the list below. It held new meaning.
“The child does not seek out connections with familiar people.”
I want so badly for my parents to have the connection with him that I had with my grandparents. That relationships is so valuable, so special, so important. So impossible…for him. Yes, he loves them – and they love him right back – but it will never be what I had, what I remember.
I had to remind him three times to come out and be with them. I had to remind him to tell them good-bye. This was nothing new. Anytime we are around those who are familiar he rarely engages. Even when friends come over. He may engage for a few minutes, then he checks out. I try so hard to force something that should naturally come, the way it comes for my daughter.
It won’t come though, through no fault of either party. Regardless, the lack of fault does not deny my right to mourn that loss.
The loss that Tucker won’t have the multitude of warm memories that bring a smile to my face.
The loss that my parents don’t have the more typical bond with their grandson.
It is what it is.
_x_ difficulty getting along with peers
_x_ prefers playing by self with objects or toys rather than with people
__ does not interact reciprocally with peers or adults; hard to have a “meaningful” two-way conversation
__ self-abusive or abusive to others
_x_ others have a hard time interpreting child’s cues, needs, or emotions
_x_ does not seek out connections with familiar people
_x_ difficulty accepting changes in routine (to the point of tantrums)
_x_ gets easily frustrated
_x_ often impulsive
_x_ functions best in small group or individually
_x_ variable and quickly changing moods; prone to outbursts and tantrums
_x_ prefers to play on the outside, away from groups, or just be an observer
_x_ avoids eye contact
_x_ difficulty appropriately making needs known
_x_ difficulty with imitative play (over 10 months)
__ wanders aimlessly without purposeful play or exploration (over 15 months)
__ needs adult guidance to play, difficulty playing independently (over 18 months)
_x_ participates in repetitive play for hours; i.e., lining up toys cars, blocks, watching one movie over and over etc.
_x_ excessive irritability, fussiness or colic as an infant
_x_ can’t calm or soothe self through pacifier, comfort object, or caregiver
__ can’t go from sleeping to awake without distress
_x_ requires excessive help from caregiver to fall asleep; i.e., rubbing back or head, rocking, long walks, or car rides