Johnny is 7-1/2 years old now and we cannot believe that 4 years have passed already. So many hours of speech therapy, OT therapy and then attending parent training courses as well. I want to make it clear that my son will always be Autistic and as parents we have come to accept that. So when I talk about therapies or celebrate his changes I want you to know that we are attempting to give him tools, strategies and life skills so he can handle existing in a world where most people learn differently then him. The following is an attempt to take a snapshot of where he is on the Autism Spectrum but I don’t like the word “symptoms” but I am using it here because its used in the resource material chart.
Johnny at Nearly 8 Years old.
Repetitive Behaviours – We notice that this happens when Johnny is very anxious and does something repetitive like lining up all of his cars or wanting to watch specific cartoon over and over again or pick up stick after stick along our walk.
Unresponsive to Commands or Questions – Sometimes this happens but Johnny says “its hard when its noisy” to talk and to figure out what to say correctly.
Delayed Speech & Language – He can now talk but is working on his articulation piece so that he can pronounce all of the sounds correctly and be understood.
Lack of Imitation of Others or Imaginative Play – Johnny always watches his peers to figure out what he should be doing if he’s not clear. He is doing lots of imaginative play with his little sister with cars and dolls.
Indifferent To the Feelings of Others – Johnny has never been indifferent but instead has failed sometimes of showing others his empathy in the way others expected. He often feels more and gets really upset if a friend is hurt and it seems to him that no one is helping his friend.
Sensitivity of Light and Sound – He often puts his hands over his ears but does not to wear noise cancelling ear phones, or ear plugs.
Self-Stimulatory Behaviours – still hand flaps but not as noticeably and its very fast and quick then nothing.
Echolalia – Johnny does a little echolalia but its usually a word that he likes to roll off his tongue or a phrase.
Unusual Emotional Responses – laughing inappropriately when someone cries even though he knows its the wrong feelings he is showing. We think its a response to the anxiety he is feeling and he still hasn’t figured out how to stop it.
Frequent Temper Tantrums/ Meltdown – Johnny doesn’t have many meltdowns anymore or what seems to be a tantrum but isn’t. Now he is able to self regulate a lot better unless we are going through a tough time with something happening to a loved one and his emotions are just under the surface.
Responds Adversely to Physical Affection, Hugs, Kisses etc – Still needs some prompting to give hugs when he is distracted but now we have a new challenge. He gives a lot of hugs to friends so now he is learning about “personal space” and asking for permission to hug.
Shows No Interest in Making Friends – the biggest change is that he HAS friends now and wants to play with them every day.
Does Not Initiate Conversation – he tries to initiate conversation but the trick is he has to learn to begin with a topic that interests the other person not only him.
Very Poor Diet – Johnny eats many things kids his age wouldn’t. He loves olives, salads, and fish cooked in the style adults would eat.
Frequently Walks on tip-Toes As A Toddler – he rarely does this anymore but now we know that his body was just craving heavy work and we didn’t understand and failed to give that to him.
Socially Withdrawn or Socially Awkward – Johnny is now a social butterfly but a butterfly who is navigating the social stratosphere like a 16 boy who is trying to ask a girl out on a date and is making all the wrong moves
Shows Little Expressive Language – Lot and lots of expressive language that I have to work hard to get a turn to talk.
Clumsiness – when Johnny becomes dis-regulated then he gets very clumsy.
Improper Use of Pronouns, Statements, and Questions – He understands language very well for someone that was once non-verbal so this is not a challenge for him. Its like he used his non-verbal time to become a really good listener and just retain huge amounts of information
Unusual Tone or Rhythm of Speech – When he reads this can happen when his voice can take on a “sing-song” style. The SLP he works with from the school board likes it right now because words Johnny cannot articulate very well when he speaks come out perfectly when he sings them. She is using this attribute to move him forward.
Self Injurious Behavior – Never now.
Frequently Makes Irrelevant Remarks – When he’s anxious he does this a lot. On the other side though he was non-verbal for so long that he is literally bursting with expressive language and has a lot to say.
Difficulty With Abstract Language and Concepts – This is very hard for Johnny. He thinks literally so adults around him have to be very specific and not generalize.
Preoccupied With One or Only A Few Narrow Interests – Johnny has many interests but focuses on 2 or 3 at a time and then changes to other things after a few weeks.
Need For Sameness – “I want to keep this forever Mommy.” Sigh
Severe Tantrums When Routines Are Disrupted – We are trying to help him become a flexible thinker and he’s getting a lot better with staying away from severe meltdowns.
Attachement to Unusual Objects Such As Car Parts, Leaves etc – Johnny likes to “treasure” items he finds when we our out walking.
Fascination with Spinning Objects or Spinning One’s Self – stopped doing that
Very Good At Rote Memory Such As Repeating Lists or Facts – Yes. Johnny has a very good memory and now that he can talk he likes to share his very detailed memories with me.
He has a neurological brain disorder and not an intellectual one and its important to understand the difference. Johnny loves to learn and is highly motivated when he understands that an activity or a person is to help him do what he wants to do so badly.