7 YEARS AGO, WHEN NICHOLAS WAS 5 YEARS OLD, HERE IS WHAT I WROTE:
AUTISM AWARENESS Day 12: Before Nicholas was diagnosed, I found it extremely odd that he would have an absolute meltdown around sand. He hated it at the park and at the beach – and by hated it I mean he absolutely panicked to touch it or have it on him. After he was diagnosed I learned that many kids with Autism have sensory issues. They may not like a certain texture or feeling that particular items give them. They may spin in circles because of the input they receive from it. They may run into walls or hit themselves because for whatever reason it feels good to them. Some kids with Autism that are able to communicate have said that they feel like there are ants crawling all over them or they feel like they are on fire and that is why they hit themselves. The basis of a lot of therapy is to find appropriate replacement behavior which gives them the same input on their joints and what their body is searching for. Nicholas used to run in circles and run into walls. This picture is of Nicholas’ swing which hangs in our living room, now instead of spinning in circles he finds the same enjoyment from swinging in his swing when needed, which is a more appropriate replacement behavior. Another preferred item that he enjoys is playing with hard putty and play dough and as he mashes it he receives the same input on his joints that running into walls used to bring. There is a reason behind everything that they do and once you understand why they are doing it – it can be easier to come up with a more socially accepted alternate. It does hurt me to think that he is in physical pain and we currently struggle with him hitting himself on a daily basis. Through therapy and exposure to sand he now loves to play in the sand. Once we conquer one battle – another one seems to pop up.
THE 7 YEAR UPDATE:
Nicholas still loves sand, mud, swinging and especially water (his LOVE of water will be saved for a different blog). His swing has changed and so has our house. We moved approximately a year ago and the house we are in now is being “designed” for Nicholas’ adult living.
Here is a semi-recent picture of Nicholas in his adult-friendly swing:
We are part of the way into turning the garage into a sensory-fun play area for Nicholas.
7 years ago, Nicholas hitting himself was a big concern. Thankfully he doesn’t do that very often anymore, but just as I wrote 7 years ago:
ONCE WE CONQUER ONE BATTLE – ANOTHER ONE SEEMS TO POP UP
He will still bite his arms, bang his head on walls, doors and other objects. He is definitely a work in progress! Some behaviors are more concerning than others. At this point in our lives – I would say that his aggressiveness towards himself and others is my top concern.