Attack of the stims

posted by Jeff | Sunday, November 6, 2016, 6:51 PM | comments: 0

I've written about it before, but few things bother me more than when someone indicates that Simon "seems normal to me." I know that people don't intend to be offensive or toxic in any way, but they don't see how loaded that statement seems. It implies that: Kids on the autism spectrum are not normal, that he has no challenges, that it's not really a thing. Annoyed as I may be by that statement, Simon has generally managed to adopt a lot of coping strategies that largely hide a lot of his challenges. This is exactly what his earliest therapists said would be the desired outcome.

That said, one of the things common among kids on the spectrum is a sensory mismatch. Some kids are easily over-stimulated, others don't get enough input. With Simon, it just depends. Fire alarms, automatic flushing toilets, air hand dryers, all freak him out. But while audible input can at times overwhelm him, physical input is never adequate for him, so he's very physical with people. If that weren't enough, he has engaged in various forms of self-stimulation at times, which appear as tics, or "stims" as some call them. None of them tend to last very long, because he's done things like a quiet double clap, or something more annoying like a throat clear.

Right now, he's engaging in several that are, to an observer, probably pretty weird. To compliment the cold he can't shake, he's making slurping noises with his mouth, engaging in rapid blinking and stretching his neck and mouth in visibly odd ways. I imagine these will pass too, but what worries me is that other kids are going to see this and make fun of him. I've resisted trying to protect him from stuff, because I want him to understand how to function in a world of adversity. I don't want him to be miserable, but I do want him to learn how to cope. This is a hard one.

Like I said, I'm sure these will pass, but kids are dicks, and they're going to see him doing "weird" things. This could be a rough year for the kid.


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