Friday 18 December 2015

Stealth Autism

I've often referred to Nathan as my "stealth autism" child.  He seems to be doing perfectly fine, coping well and then suddenly we hit a roadblock and get reminded that he's got a diagnosis as well.

We've been working on having him walk home on his own (or rather, under the supervision of several moms along the way).  Alex and I have been meeting him closer and closer to our house as the weeks have gone on.

The other day, we saw Nathan running cheerfully towards the house, only a few blocks away.  We waved cheerfully and began to walk towards him.  Suddenly, Nathan stopped dead and began to scream.  Alex and I hurried to find out what the problem was and Nathan ran away, back towards the school.

One of my transit-moms saw him and went to him.  He was sobbing with her saying that I'd told him he couldn't go home ever again.  She knew that didn't really sound like something I'd say but just held him.  When Alex and I caught up, he started to wail and scream again, so we retreated a little to give him time to calm down.  She talked to him and tried to get him to explain what was wrong but he just kept repeating he couldn't go home and that I was going to kill him.  (Again, not something I've ever said.)

Finally she got him calmed enough that I could sit down with him and get him to talk to me.  After a good twenty minutes, we got past the can't-go-home and imminent death threats, to a very simple truth.  He had been proud of getting almost all the way home by himself and wanted us to wait for him.

Now, the previous week, he had gotten upset when we stopped walking when we saw him.  He'd told us to keep coming and meet him.  

I did try to explain that he can't expect people to just know what he wants.  He has to tell us and ask us for what he wants.  I'm not sure how much of it sank home.  It's something I've told him before and one of the autism-areas we tend to have problems with for him: universal knowledge.  He assumes that everyone knows and understands what he's thinking and assumes he understands intentions based on his reactions.  (Ie, if he's hurt when someone bumps into him, then they did it on purpose).  

It was emotionally exhausting and a little worrying.  The wild accusations are a very troubling development for two reasons.  One, if he told someone who didn't know the family, we could end up under investigation.  Two, by using them when they're not true, he makes it less likely that anyone will believe him if someone ever is hurting or threatening him.

I'm glad that this time we got it all sorted out without any long term consequences.  But it's left me with some worry-fodder for the future.

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