Where do you draw the line between normal behaviour for a 4 year old and and Autism?



Where do you draw the line between normal behaviour for a 4 year old and and Autism?  I get that questions a lot from well meaning friends and family.  The short answer is there is no line because our son will never be neurotypical.   That is hard to hear isn’t it?  It’s taken me many months to understand, give meaning to this and accept this.

We have been seeing some challenging behaviors occur lately.

  • Inappropriate laughter that seems to go on and on
  • coming home with sensory media in his hair, on his arms ie paint, shaving cream.
  • dumping bins of toys and blocks and school in frustration
  • refusing to participate in gym class because “too loud Mamma..fix.”
  • unplugging the power cable to the teacher’s laptop that was doing a SMARTBOARD presentation for a Mathematics exercise….3 times!
  • shoving and hitting other classmates
  • slapping himself on his cheeks
  • kicking the school bus drivers seat, banging the windows of the bus
  • unbuckling his seat belt on the school and walking around
  • 3 incident warnings on one bus route now and waiting for a safety clasp to be installed over buckle so he can’t open it.
May 1st is tomorrow and most of the above behaviours were not happening during the school year.
So on the surface one might think “naughty” but when you view it through the Autism lens you see that there are frustrations building because of not being listened to, having troubles talking and all the anxiety that comes with living in a world where everything is so hard to do then things happen.  Actions become words.  If he does something repetitively that is a BIG sign that its the Autism and again someone might say “he’s being a brat” doing it over and over again but he can’t help that.  Autism puts his thought patterns into a big loop that must be broken every single day.
I feel very run down right now.  I am just plain tired of constantly advocating for services for my son and letting them know that certain things should be in place so that behaviours don’t occur and then over a 2 week period the above list occurs.  He is trying so hard to talk, participate in class in the morning and please everyone that by the afternoon he is worn out.  The OT has said he needs extra help in dealing with the tiredness a lot of kids feel in the latter part of the day.  I am also frustrated that he has three EA’s splitting their time with him instead of one while they try to wean him of assistance.  In the meantime as he is trying to learn to speak (Apraxia of Speech) he does not have a speech augmentation device or book in place to assist him when he does not have an EA with him.  Sigh.  I have professionals from both of my son’s school meeting together and observing our son on Wednesday morning so I hope something comes out of that.
I don’t use my son’s Autism as an excuse when these things happen but as a sign that the professionals in my son’s life need to start looking past his sweet smile and start helping him more.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. My thoughts go out to you and your son. This sounds very frustrating.


    1. Cyn says:

      Thanks:) It is very frustrating. His Autism Support Team that supports him in the classroom are stepping up with help for him and guidance but it seems to be “me” that keeps having to email them instead of the classroom teachers. The teachers love him but have to at some point realize that they are on a learning curve as well and need to advocate for themselves better.


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