Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Uniqueness of Each Person with Autism

I picked Chrissy up earlier than usual on Saturday & was told that she'd had an unsettled morning, kicking off about when I was coming to pick her up. She repeats 'is Mummy coming on Saturday?' whatever day it is, & whether I'm coming or not. Her demands get increasingly loud & shrill until she loses control, & throws herself on the floor in a full-blown outburst. She had fresh bruises on her arm & leg, & dried blood in one nostril from self-harming.

Chrissy enjoyed our drive home, listening to the radio & watching me with a quizzical smile on her face. She is as fascinated by neurotypical people as we are by her!

The weekend passed without event. Chrissy was her usual restless self, plying me with repetitive questions - 'What's for dinner? 'Where are we going later?' 'Can I have a banana?' 'Can I turn the light on?' 'What colour's that car?' (Chrissy is obsessed by colours) She fixates on one person & shadows their every step. We get stuck together in doorways, like the Laurel & Hardy revolving door sketch, & I often trip over her when I turn round suddenly.

There were a couple of outbursts but they didn't last long & there was no stripping or major self-harming episodes. The big one came when we tried to take her back to the hospital. As always, she wanted various things in her bag - a chocolate mousse, her plastic cup & a bottle of watered down diet coke, then we had to tie a bow in the bag. At the last minute she demanded a spoon (a metal one). Chrissy, like many people with autism, is extremely single-minded. Due to what happened last week over the blue plastic spoon, we refused very carefully, following behavioural management guildelines; we didn't say no, we said she could have a spoon next time she came home. We managed to get her into the car then all hell broke loose - Chrissy rubbed her nose until it bled, pulled her hair, bit her hands, all the time roaring 'Wanna spoon!' She then tried to undo her seat belt & climb in the back 'to sit with mummy.' I took her hand instead & the mayhem stopped just like that. I wish that simple technique worked every time...

I'm reading a fascinating book by Charlotte Moore, a mum of two autistic sons called George and Sam. Her boys couldn't be more different from each other, & Chrissy is completely different again. No wonder autism is so hard to diagnose!

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