Thursday, February 24, 2011

When is it.....

....autism and when is it just normal development? As a parent of autistic children, that's a question that I face all the time. Every time one of the twins start displaying new behaviors, is it because of the autism? Is it a regression? Is it something that I need to discuss with their teachers? Is it something that requires significant intervention? Or is it simply being a 4-year old child? This becomes even more difficult when the new behavior is typically associated with "autism", even if it's not uncommon in neurotypical children.

Aggression is probably the hardest of these for me to face. Rachel has, for several weeks now, been displaying increased aggression. These displays started as actions directed at herself (Self-Injurious Behaviors) and now they are extending to her classmates/teachers/siblings. What I've been seeing towards her brothers have been more of a play-like behavior -- she's been tackling them and refusing to get up once she sits on her older brother. This is all done with a smile of triumph on her face. She doesn't see that she's causing Daniel discomfort, and more often than not, Daniel deserves something. I wasn't really thinking of these behaviors as a bad thing -- just her version of playing, and perhaps taking things a bit too far (which we've been working on). Daniel is a very physical boy and he tends to bump his brother and sister and he's been known to tackle the two of them -- turn-around is fair play, right?

But now I'm hearing complaints about her behavior at school. She's poking her friends and teachers. She's hitting. She's making inappropriate comments (in a self-soothing, stimming way). I'm going to meet with her teacher and a representative from the Autism Office tomorrow to go over the data they've collected and work on a action plan strategy to correct these behaviors.

These behaviors had started towards the end of last month -- I wrote a post about the "Self Injurious Behaviors" here. Since then, I've taken her to the pediatrician (normal well-child check-up, nothing relating to these behaviors) and brought these up. I asked her if she felt that this was related to autism or just normal development. Her response was that, until proven otherwise, I should ALWAYS consider any changes in hers (and Simon's) behavior to be normal development. We just need to approach it in an "autism" way (since that's how they learn and respond).

I need to remember that. For now, Rachel's new behavior is NOT autism -- just normal development and learning (but we still need to correct it).

But it doesn't stop me from thinking.....

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