Carson is such an amazing toddler. He is incredibly smart, he is funny, he loves chocolate and he is on the autism spectrum. Carson is a VERY high functioning toddler on the spectrum. People ask all the time what made us have him tested, what did we notice and that is for a different post, that I will one day make on either here or Carson’s blog. But today I come to you, our readers for advice.
With Carson you are either completely unaware that there is anything different about him, or there is no denying it. There are times when we are using his GAC pass that I feel bad, because I think, wow we have it so much easier than other families going through this. Then there are times, when I reminded why exactly we use a GAC for getting through lines quickly. Those times usually erase the times I feel bad.
Generally speaking we have gotten pretty good at redirecting to “change” behaviors or removing the stimulation/situation/problem in order to avoid or stop melt down, behavior or self stims from occurring. I know that some self stims are fine, they aren’t hurting him or anyone around him and they only kind of “look” weird/funny. I am never really sure where to draw the line when it comes to stopping some of stims.
When we are at home, we discourage spinning to excess. We correct when he tries to view the world from the corner of his eyes. When he flaps, we determine why and either join, redirect, do nothing or stop the behavior. (If we are flapping for excitement, then we all start jumping up and down and clapping. Some times it changes his behavior, he mimics us and stops flapping. If he is flapping out of frustration, we get to his level, hold his hands, encourage eye contact and talk to him to work to discover the issue.)
At the parks stims become a little confusing. I am not sure how to respond to some of them. Others are completely clear. But today, I am asking for help on a few stims that Carson regularly exhibits at the parks. I want to know what would you do? Would you ignore, redirect or something else?
Ear Covering – He does this for numerous reasons: Too Loud, Crowded Area, Excited, Scared, and Undetermined. For the too loud, we either let him do it, help to redirect his attention to something that requires concentration, or move locations. For crowded areas we deal with each situation individually. For Excited – I do nothing, I am not sure if I should. For instance, the other day we were at Universal Studios in the Woody Woodpecker Water play area, and he was having a blast, but every few minutes he would stand there and cover his ears, look down or to the side and then he would go back to playing with his car in the water. A few of the times I ran to him and tried to find out what was the matter and see what I needed to do to “fix” it for him. But after a few times, I realized there really wasn’t a “problem” to fix, so I just let him do his thing. I noticed a few of the other parents there looking at him when he was doing his ear cover thing, and wanted nothing more than to help my son get through whatever was making him need that stim. But do I need to do that? Should he be let to stim in certain situations? If your child is stimming out of excitement, or reasons unknown, what do you do?
Line Walking – At each of the parks there are areas where there are “lines” in the pathways. Magic Kingdom for instance – Main Street USA, the trolley car tracks – Fantasyland, “cracks” in the “stone” paths – Frontierland, Wood Plank pathways…. – It can take us a mighty long time to get through one land to the next when Carson HAS to follow the lines. Generally speaking one of us (generally me) stays with him as we take his path to get to the next part of the park. I don’t stop him from this behavior, or really redirect it. The few times I have tried to change the behavior we have had complete meltdowns until we got back to the spot where we removed him from. So – What do you do? Would you allow the line walking? What recommendations do you have to modify this behavior if you feel that it should be modified?
Mimicking or Reciting – So Carson repeats himself and others. Sometimes it is typical toddler repeating of 2 or 3 times, other times it is 10 to 15 or more times in a row,
in a row, in a row, in a row, in a row, in a row, in a row, in a row, in a row, in a row, in a row, in a row, in a row, in a row, in a row, in a row, in a row, in a row, in a row, in a row, in a row, in a row, Yes, I do attempt to redirect when that happens, sometimes successfully, sometimes not…. Now when he does his reciting something word for word, while at home and in the car we don’t do anything about. (I mean how cute is it when he says every word, makes every sound (grunts, doors shutting, wind blowing…) from his shows) but….. At Hollywood Studios Disney Junior Live or The Little Mermaid Show, I worry that we are “bothering” or taking away from another child’s experience. At this time I don’t correct this or redirect. I typical watch my little man in awe of his ability to memorize so much at such a young age. Am I wrong for this? What would you do?
Please, I ask that you keep your comments respectful here. I am learning as I go along, and while he started OT before he was two and he is doing great. There are many parts of this ASD world that are new to me and my family. We don’t have any community of other families with toddlers on the Spectrum, so my only resource it to come to you our readers and ask – What Would You Do?