Thursday, May 26, 2011

Is there a 2-year old in there?

If you are a regular reader, you know that we’ve been having some behavioral issues escalate recently with Monkey regarding his honesty (or lack thereof). I reached my breaking point a couple of weeks ago when I caught him stealing vitamins and food. I wrote about that day here, explaining what happened and what the repercussions were. I knew something had to be done. After speaking with my husband that morning, I immediately called the school to talk with his teachers.
They promptly set up a strategy meeting to discuss Monkey with all of the teachers and professionals that are regularly involved with him. A few days later we arrived to a room full of his IEP team members. I have to say, it was really nice to have everyone’s involvement, including a person from the school district’s special education office. Thankfully it was not an IEP meeting, so there was a distinctly lighter mood in the room. We began by each discussing the problems we had seen with Monkey from our various perspectives. Then we brainstormed together for solutions.
In the middle of this meeting one of the participants said something I will never forget.
“If you think about all of the things he’s doing, this is what you would typically see with a 2-year old who is exploring his boundaries. When they’re 2, it’s not as big of a deal when they do little things to test you. They might put their hand in the cookie jar to try to take a cookie, but they are easily caught because you’re standing right next to them and they didn’t think to look beyond the cookie jar. Unlike a 2-year old, he can be sneaky and manipulative because he's 8 and he’s really smart. He’s obviously got more maturity and experience than a 2-year old, but he’s still going through all of those phases of development. He was delayed in some areas so it took him longer to get there."
"Basically, it’s like you’ve got a 2-year old inside of an 8-year old body.”
When I heard those words, I almost couldn’t speak. I nodded my head in agreement and let the words sink in. “It’s like you’ve got a 2-year old inside of an 8-year old body.”
The words stung. But, they were true. I almost began to cry right on the spot. I looked over at my husband and saw the same look of shock and recognition on his face. As much as we both didn’t like it, we had just been given an accurate description of our son. Titan looked over at me and I could see that it had clicked into his brain just as it had in mine. She was right and we both knew it.
The meeting concluded after we came up with some good ideas and a game plan. My husband and I conferred in the parking lot as he was getting into his car to head to work. All we could talk about was how Monkey was like a 2-year old. We knew it would impact our approach with him at home, but we just had to get our mind wrapped around this new information.
How had we not figured this out before? It seemed so obvious once it had been said.
Both of our boys are on the autism spectrum. We have no other children. Even though the boys are polar opposites, they still have the same diagnosis. We’ve been watching both of them grow up under the altered development that autism brings. We have had no tangible experience with raising a “typical” child. And, that’s why we had no clue whatsoever that we were dealing with an 8-year old acting like a 2-year old. That’s truly some news we needed to hear. And, we hope to use that information to make positive changes.       
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