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.       


Becky said...

I understand the shock and also the relief in knowing now how to deal with certain problems. Early on in my research I found someone suggesting that Aspies were usually about 2/3 their age, when I did the math I realized that was true for my two Aspies and it really helped me to know how to deal with certain behaviors. Prayers for you as you help your son get through the terrible twos!

Caffeinated Autism Mom said...

Becky, thank you so much! It's still a little strange to think that my 8-year old is going through the terrible twos! EEK! I thought we were past all of that. Nope! Now we have a better perspective on the behaviors, which is so helpful. Even last night he had a total and complete emotional tantrum that was something you would easily see a 2-year old do. I had to remind myself and my husband that we were seeing the 2-year old emerge at that moment. It helped us a lot.

Rachel said...

I'm welling up a little reading this. We just had N's diagnosis at easter, but knowing that his verbal comprehension is 2.5yr at 4.5yrs has really helped us to communicate better with him as we are now aiming our language at his understanding rather than at his speech level (the awkward child talks at a 4.8yr level, nicely masking his understanding difficulties)

We are trying to do a claim for a disability benefit (UK) and have to show his behaviour and needs are 'significantly more than another child of the same age' - he's our firstborn - how do we know what help other people's 4yr olds need when we don't see them eating/going to toilet/having baths/going to bed etc? We live in a society of proud parents who exagerate their child's achievements and don't generally let on about the challenges they face in parenting them to any old acquaintance. I cringe when people start going on about their 2yr old being daytime potty trained - N isn't close to that yet, he stays dry some days but he just won't even consider pooping on toilet/potty yet. - any advise from an AS parent gratefully recieved on this point btw.

Caffeinated Autism Mom said...

Rachel, I wish we qualified for disability services! I hope you have an easier time of it as you try to work with the system. As far as the toilet training goes, there are several books on the market right now that discuss training specific to autism. You can locate them easily at by doing a search for "autism toilet training". Several will pop right up for you, and they might even be available at your local library. Well, all the best to you and your family. Thanks for your comment!

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