Autism Parenting Tips I Learned From Dr. Sheldon Cooper

TV has a lot of really bad shows that are just mindless but sometimes you run into one that really strikes a chord. Before my son was diagnosed with Autism we had our suspicions. He had always had his challenges & difficulties. He had always been a bit odd or different from the other kids but in small town Oklahoma not only do you not know what to do about it you can't find anyone who knows anything about it! The turning point was NBC's show Parenthood, one of the kids was diagnosed with Aspergers on the show. After watching we realized that it fit how our son acted with a shocking amount of accuracy so that was our breaking point, we sought out someone who was familiar with Autism Spectrum Disorders & made his appointment or evaluation.

CBS's The Big Bang Theory is another one of those show that just hit the nail on the head! So after watching a run of episodes these last couple of days I'm realizing how accurate they really are & how shows like this that not only humanize people on the spectrum but also put a positive or humorous spin on it and it really does help with awareness & acceptance. I've already tried my hand at identifying cartoon characters that I think are on the Autism Spectrum, view that blog post here. In honor of one of my favorite characters on television, Dr. Sheldon Cooper, I thought I would share some of my favorite parenting skills that I have learned from Sheldon about raising a kid on the spectrum.

  • Pick Your Battles - "My Shirt Is Itchy And I Wish I Were Dead!" Pants are the wrong texture, the collar of this shirt lays on my neck wrong, I can't wear green today! You learn to not only pick your battles but you learn what real battles are! This isn't even worth fighting over for me. He has a whole closet full of clothes in there so lets just find something that is going to be acceptable. As long as its not a silk button up shirt with cats & wizards on it I'm totally happy! PICK YOUR BATTLES PEOPLE! 

  • Doing 'Stupid' Things - Okay, I've learned that this is a pretty big one. There are things that we do in this word that are stupid or silly when you think about it. Case in point? Easter Eggs, Valentines Day, little white liess, Elf On The Shelf, the list goes on & on but what most people don't have is the pleasure of having a kid that will be happy to point out how stupid those things are & you know what..? Sometimes I can't really sum up with a single reason why we do the things we do but we have to & yes it may be stupid but we have to do it! We all have family, little brothers, moms, school teachers, & others who have expectations & the while I expect the world to be accepting or accommodating  of my son, I expect my son to learn to be the same with the things he doesn't like or understand. "Let's do this stupid thing" for a kid with High Functioning Autism or Aspergers is the same as when other parents say to their NT kids "Because I said so!"
  • Manners - "If you don't mind, I'd like to stop listening to you & start talking." How many of us can hear these words coming out of our own kids mouth? Then again, after thirty minutes or so of listening to the technical breakdown of how something works in Minecraft I am pretty close to saying something along these lines as well. I find it funny that if these words came out of my sons mouth he would probably think it was still considered acceptable manners because he said it politely instead of just starting to talk right over you. Everything is a work in progress! :)
  • Celebrate The Small Things - If my son would eat a slice of pizza I would probably throw a party! Probably not a pizza party but a party none the less. I have bribed, threatened, tricked, lied, & my way to making him try new foods & you know what? None of that ever works. You have to just present opportunities for expansion of foods & reward/celebrate the small victories. Even if that victory is that you, the parent, made it through the day & the small celebration is a glass of wine & a bowl of ice cream from the pint you had hidden behind the mini corn dogs in the back of the freezer so no one else in the house would jack it from you… not that I know anything about that!

Thanks for reading & don't forget to follow me over on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & on Instagram @AdventuresInAspergrs

Autism, Overstimulation, & Setbacks Oh My!

autism blog
A 'Selfie' we found on my wife's phone.
The sixth grade has proved kind of a rough transition for this kid. We have forgotten work, not moved quick enough to get things done, been overstimulated to many times to count but glass half full at least we haven't had to worry about some of the crazy apocalyptic crazy thoughts that were in my head as we headed into middle school! Granted most of those were just worry wort dad thoughts & involved pretty much just crazy stories you read in the new happening verbatim to my kid. Every time I would read one of those horrifying stories about how a kid with autism was mistreated I just knew THAT exact thing would happen to him. So, like I said, glass half full none of that has happened! :)

What has happened is I got a call from our counselor yesterday while we were knee deep in the fall section of Hobby Lobby. (Don't judge me! I gave up my man card long ago when I got a pinterest!) She told me that he had fallen asleep in second hour at his desk. The teacher tried to wake him up, when she did they said he looked around at the other kids wide eyed & confused for a second then crawled under his desk to the fetal position. He wouldn't talk or make eye contact with anyone so the teacher called for the counselor. When the counselor arrived she told me that she tried to talk to him nice & slow for a second telling him that she has a soft bean bag chair in her office that he could come relax on. He took his backpack & headed to her office where she let him decompress for a while before he could even talk to her. She told me that after he started to talk again she assured him he wasn't in any kind of trouble & gave him the option to go back to school for the rest of the day or she could call me to see about going home. He made the decision to go back to class. I'm so proud & happy that he made the very grown up choice to go back to class but I'm not gonna' lie I wanted to rush to that school, pick him up, & get him home! Sometimes I realize that he is way braver than I am.

Annie likes to tag along when picking up kids
I normally pick him up separately from the other boys. We pick up the two boys at the elementary & then I drop them off at home with mom so I can pick Jayden up just me & him. I took him to sonic for a green apple slush with nerds in it to ask him how his day was, he didn't know the counselor called me. He went over his entire day with me, telling me how it was a good day with no problems at all! I gently pushed & pushed telling him he was acting like something had happened or he was not telling me everything. Even without the call I would have known something was up because he was obviously acting out of the norm being overly animated & evasive. Almost like you would see a character act when they are hiding something on a cartoon or kids TV show. I pushed one last time before telling him I got a call. I said 'Jayden I'm going to order our drinks & I want you to think about your day. I know from the way you are acting that something has happened or there is something that has thrown you off a bit. Think about it while I'm ordering, maybe there is something that happened that you 'FORGOT' about. Either way I am going to email or call the teachers to check so please be honest with me & think really hard." Sure enough after I ordered he put his hand to his chin like a sitcom character rubbing it & saying 'hmmmm' Then he said "You know, there is one thing I just remembered that happened today!" He told me about what happened telling me that he remembered being very sleepy & then waking up under his desk curled up.

Going over the night before in my mind there was nothing out of the ordinary. Bed time was the same as it always is, reading books, saying good night, up in the morning like normal, everything was in line. Usually you can see these things headed your way but this one caught me off guard a bit. We haven't had anything like this happen since about 3rd grade. I can even remember in kindergarden them having problems with him going under the desk to seek refuge or wandering the halls because he got out of someones sight for a minute but that was a long time ago! Time will tell I guess.

our son with autism practicing the snare drum
Practice Practice Practice!
I think band is keeping him somewhat on point. I'm not sure if I mentioned it in my last post, he was approved to play the drums. The snare drum! Yeah... Up to this point its not bad because I haven't actually heard him play the snare, he has a practice pad that is soft & pretty quiet so thats a big plus. $775 for supplies to play the drums & we get Xylophone, Snare practice pads, & sticks but no drums. You would think I would be upset about that but yeah...nope. Lets keep the drums at school for now shall we! :)