Friday, July 2, 2010

The Days of Whine and Roses

This week is Ryan's summer break.  He graduated from preschool on Friday, and starts extended year preschool on Tuesday. In the same classroom he just graduated from.  With the same teacher, and some of the same kids.


I had fantasies that we would spend this week doing fun, summer-like things, like swimming and going to the beach and eating ice cream at the park.  And we've done some of that.  Ryan had a blast for three whole hours at the wave pool on Monday.  (Yes, our city that can no longer afford to have after-school sports has a public wave pool!)  Ryan rushed into the water every time the waves started up, and slinked away whenever the waves stopped and the pool reverted to being just a plain old pool.  He braved some intense sprinklers and went down the mini water slide all by himself, over and over again.  We lasted over an hour at a friend's barbeque.  And we've gone to the playground and roller skated and played with Grandma and Grandpa.  

But we've also come up against a torrent of tantrums that leave both of us miserable.  It stems from Ryan's lack of pragmatic language skills and his accompanying frustration at not being able to communicate what he wants.  If it's a beautiful day, he'll beg to go inside.  If I ask him if he needs to go to the bathroom, he will throw himself on the bathroom floor and refuse to stand up.  And if you saw his reaction to my asking him to pick up his markers, you'd think I had been clubbing the boy like a baby seal.

Oh hark, I hear whining. 

A little column A, a little column B.   I adore column A.  But column B can punch me in the gut sometimes.


  1. Yesterday in my therapy group, somebody speculated that low-functioning autistic individuals may not suffer as much as high-functioning individuals because a low-functioning autistic doesn't know that he or she is marginalized.

    I voiced my disagreement, though I'm no expert. I gave the example of my friend's brother, explaining that he's very low functioning but has the cognitive capacity to be frustrated, and gave the very crude analogy of a pre-verbal infant throwing a tantrum because he's unable to communicate his needs or assert his autonomy, but with the strength of a 30-year-old man.

    Reflecting on your post and on that conversation, it's even more clear to me that individuals on the spectrum suffer no matter what level of functionality they have. Whether they suffer more or less than NTs or higher functioning individuals, I wouldn't know. But it seems to me that individuals who aren't suffering don't have meltdowns.

  2. I tried to post this the other day, but it wouldn't let me. So trying again.

    But don't ignore the fact that Ryan played pretty well with that annoying 6 year old in your backyard the other day. And that he had a blast rolling down the hill, and followed all of my directions about rolling differently, and walking like a wheelbarrow, and stuff like that. Ryan surely would not have behaved like that even a few months ago.

    He behaved totally perfectly at the graduation program, knew all the words and hand movements, and when it was his turn. He participated exactly correctly. He even wore his graduation hat.

    He's made huge strides.

  3. @Dave I have worked with adults in various places on the spectrum and I have to agree that in many instances it is easier for lower functioning individuals because they often don't have the meta-awareness that comes along with knowing that they are impaired.

    I'm not commenting on Ryan (he sounds like he has made great strides and through baby steps is progressing nicely) but some of the clients with whom I worked realized that they "got it" just enough to know that they didn't "get it." The lower functiong (many non verbal and reliant on aug com devices) did not have this awareness and so their frustration certainly wasn't easy but it was a more basic frustration and a less meta involved frustration.


Keep it civil, people.