Revisiting ASD and inflexibility

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, January 18, 2017, 8:01 PM | comments: 0

How strange that almost two years ago to the day I wrote about the struggle with ASD-related flexibility that Simon has, because we're dealing with it a lot lately. The difference is that now the issues surround things more relevant to an almost-7-year-old. For example, when the tap water is much colder, as it is in the winter in Florida, you have to adjust the shower differently, and my boy freaks out when the perfect temperature is not achieved with the handle at the 12 o'clock position. He's getting better at cutting his food with a knife, but if he can't make a clean cut, he won't eat it. Similarly, if I don't cut a sandwich into fourths, it's inviting drama. The other day he freaked out when his bus was late, and the one that picked up the route meant he couldn't sit in "his" spot.

Now sprinkle in all of the typical stuff where an early grade school kid is just trying to manipulate a situation to get his way, and that's the world we're living in. Inflexibility is, at this point, the most dominant "ASD thing" that Simon deals with (though we're getting him tested for ADHD given some issues at school, which is frequently a co-occurring issue with ASD). The thing that I find difficult to keep in mind is that all things, to him, carry the same weight in severity, so while most situations are minor to anyone else, to him they are dire conditions.

This is something that, as a parent, I've not been particularly good at rolling with. I've been pretty wrapped up in my own world the last six months with work, contemplating life and what not to really think deeply about how to help Simon. This has led to some suboptimal fathering moments that usually involve me getting emotional in a non-helpful way. What I would like to do is find everyday situations where I can switch something up on purpose, and encourage him to deal with the change. I also try to recall situations where "plan B" ended up being an acceptable outcome. He wants the opportunities to make his own decisions, but the frustration can be epic when he can't arrive at the desired outcome.

Fortunately, he's making strides in other areas. Academically, math has really clicked, and reading is finally getting beyond recalling words and into actual comprehension (even if he hates doing the homework that works those muscles). I feel like we're just one step ahead, but we worry a lot about him not keeping up. I'm so grateful for his teacher this year. She's been super collaborative and really looks out for him, but letting him struggle when appropriate.


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