Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Glimpse of Destruction Done Skiff Style

The sun has barely rubbed the sleep from it's eyes, had it's coffee and started its long work day.  Hubby and I are trying to hold onto those precious few extra minutes of sleep that come on Saturday mornings when you have small children.  7 am and we can not put off getting out of bed any longer.   I stumble down the stairs and start brewing that magic elixir of life and  I turn as I'm filling the coffee pot and almost drop it.  I put the pot down and rub my sleepy eyes, surely my eyes are deceiving me.  I blink once, twice and look again.  This is the sight that greeted my still weary eyes.
Jamie is smiling broadly with a pair of scissors in his hands.  "Look Mom, I made the cat windows!!"
He is so proud of his creation.  I'm struggling between the need to cry and the desire to laugh.  I take the scissors and send Jamie upstairs before I loose it.  Then I call hubby downstairs and together we shake our heads and laugh, after a moment of pure frustration.  This is not the first thing Jamie has "creatively" redesigned and it won't be the last.  We call Jamie down and once again explain to him why he cannot destroy the furniture, even when he thinks its for a good cause.  Jamie really doesn't understand what the big fuss is all about.  After all, the cat needed windows in its favorite hiding place.  We take the scissors and throw them away.  New rule in Skiffdom, scissors are disposable tools.  We buy a pair when we need them and then THROW THEM AWAY!!  Just hide them you suggest.  There is no hiding place in our house that Jamie will not discover.  Believe me we have tried!

This incident took place a few years ago but it was a good example because I had photographic evidence;)  Autism and destructiveness often walk hand in hand.  People have judged us quite harshly for what seems to be undisciplined, unsupervised tsunami children running rampant around our home.  The reality is much more complex.  First and foremost, I must be clear here, not all of our children do this type of damage on a regular basis (well Paul does to his clothing but that's another story).  It is almost entirely all done by Jamie.  Secondly, Jamie really cannot control himself.  He does not get it no matter what discipline is imposed.  He honestly does not connect his actions to consequences (good or bad).  Thirdly, he is not unsupervised.  If anything we keep a pretty tight reign on Jamie because of just this kind of thing.  He is nine years old and he is limited to playing only in our back yard and inside our house unless I am right there within touching distance.  However, he is not my only child and he is FAST.....I mean track star fast.    He can outrun anyone in the family by A LOT.  He literally laps his next fastest brother.
Jamie is not intending destruction.  He is a creative soul and has hypo sensory issues.  This means he does not feel sensation the same way that most of us do :pain, heat, cold, just to name a few.  I have example after example where I have had to rescue him from himself.  Whether it is wandering outside in a short sleeved t-shit and jeans BAREFOOT on a 20 degree day ( I caught him in less than a minute and brought him back in.  All the while he was arguing that it wasn't cold at all.)  or not even crying after tripping on a stairs and splitting open his knee requiring stitches.  He kept pulling open the wound after the stitches were in and playing with it.  He is always searching for sensation.  Just this week he tore a phone book to shreds (yes they do still exist), finger painted with spaghetti sauce on my kitchen floor, finger painted the back of my house with mud, and  poured water on bubble wrap upstairs and jumped on it.  My carpet and I were NOT happy.   Jamie is a great imaginative kid,  he just has no concept of what he is doing.  In his mind, he didn't destroy a phone book he was making confetti and throwing a party for his stuffed animals.  The spaghetti sauce was just the perfect medium to express his inner Van Gough and seriously why not paint the back of the house with mud?!?  All of these things gave him the sensory input that he more than craves, he NEEDS.  We are trying to find ways to give him the sensory outlets he needs but his creativity does not like being limited to our simplistic fixes.  Playdough, art supplies, appropriate digging options, and lots of time in the pool or our garden tub (playing in water is a great sensory option for him) just seem to make him crave more "creatively" artistic sensory options.
We have adapted our lives more than most people can even fathom.  We no longer have dressers because Jamie loves to dump out the contents of the drawers  and build with them.  He then tries to climb the towers he builds, best case scenario he breaks the drawers, worst case scenario he breaks himself (both have happened).   Jamie has literally picked apart (with his fingers) 8 mattresses!!  We have finally found a solution to this one, we have bunk beds where the mattresses sit down inside the frame.  He has had the same mattress for going on two years!!!!!
This is not a post to cry woe is me.  Instead this is an attempt to describe what it is to live with an autistic child who is hypo sensitive.  This is our lives, this is the mundane every day for us.  I know there will be many of you who have the perfect parenting solution for this.  Believe me when I say we've tried it.  This has been going on for nine years.  If it has been suggested, written about, lectured about, or even thought about we have tried it.  I truly am not being arrogant, I'm just trying to express one of the many ways autism affects our daily lives.
My Jamie 
I love my Jamie.  I love his creativity.  I love his passion and his sweetness.  I love his love of all things musical.  I wouldn't trade him for anything, not even for a couch without windows. -Kristine

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