Sometimes I feel that I am living in a hotel… but unfortunately, not as one of the guests! My role in this family run hotel seems to be the waitress!
Because of his autism my son does not use the usual preambles of speech. When he wants something his way of asking is very commanding (not sure where he gets it from!). So we have “where is my breakfast”, “get my breakfast”, “get my drink”. Or he will pass his empty plate to you and simply say “more”! He has an excellent memory so I can see a career looming as playing “Oliver”!
If he needs something, he wants it right that minute and it doesn’t matter what I’m doing. Although, I get frustrated I have found it better just to get him what he wants as otherwise he continues to yell out for it. He cannot yet comprehend that I need to finish a task before getting him what he wants. I have tried the “now” and “then” technique but it hasn’t really worked for me.
Samuel has difficulty with empathy, although this is improving his needs come very much first. For example, if his sister is crying, Samuel’s concern is that he finds the noise distressing and will even shout out “take her away, take her away”. You have to talk to him quite gently as to “why do you think Lydia is crying; what should we do to help her” ? These are behaviours that come naturally to those of us who are neurotypical but have to be learned if you are on the spectrum.
One of the things we were taught at Earlybird’s (http://www.autism.org.uk/earlybird) is that children with autism have problems in filtering out the important instructions. Therefore, it is really important to give them straightforward, simple instructions. With Lydia at bedtime I might say “come on Darling, time for bed, go and get into your jim jams”. This is in marked contrast to Samuel. I will say “Samuel” (pause – name said to get attention!) “pyjamas”. We were also taught not to always give a negative instruction as that is all that your child tends to hear. So instead of saying “Samuel, stop running” (as he heads to the road) you re-phrase it to “Samuel – walk” which is a much more positive statement. We went to the zoo once and Samuel started climbing a fence; as he was some distance away I yelled out in my best “get-here now” voice “Samuel” (pause) “down”. I am sure that someone thought I had a dog with me!