Autistic? Or Naughty?

The Pickle is growing up. He’s a very handsome young man! I look at him sometimes and wonder how I managed to half create such a good looking little guy.

The older he gets however, it’s becoming MUCH harder…. it’s hard to control what’s going on and what he’s getting away with everyday. He’s getting so big now. (he’ll be 4 in July). It’s like having a little person with a very young mind, in an older child’s body. And I’m quite fat and pregnant at the moment.

On a bad day, he screams at me and hits me in the face when he’s frustrated. He fights me on the stairs (one day we will both fall down them for sure and how will anyone get in to save us? The house is locked up to stop the Pickle getting out!), he jumps on me (and my baby bump) with no idea that he can cause any harm, and the hardest one of all…. he does not listen to a word I say.

He doesn’t stop, wait, listen or eat when I tell him too. I can’t get him to sit at the table for more than 10 seconds. I have to bribe him with chocolate, biscuits and ipads and all the things you’re not supposed to give to your child when you want them to do something for you! Most days, I fell totally and utterly powerless in my own home. I’m redundant as a mother. Nothing I do makes any difference to what he’s doing. Add to that, a crazy puppy (who also doesn’t listen) and 8 month pregnancy exhaustion, I have been known to just burst into tears randomly and in front of the Pickle. Another terrible thing to do with he’s the child and I’m the adult. And perhaps it’s a good thing, but the Pickle can’t actually comprehend that either. Because he doesn’t understand that other people have feelings and emotions. He just looks at my snotty, red face in curiosity and will sometimes laugh or copy me.

Yesterday somebody said an innocent comment to me that I secretly took quite hard. We met for some lunch and she asked me if the Pickle was a good eater. I started to explain that he only eats dry food, usually bland colours, and that sometimes there were exceptions to the rules, but he hadn’t let a vegetable pass his lips in over a year and I was trying to fix that but it’s difficult to keep offering foods when you know it will be rejected and you’re just throwing money into the bin. She said with a smile ‘wow he’s really got one over on you hasn’t he?’ I laughed and said ‘yeah’.

But it totally hit a nerve, because I feel like he really HAS got one over on me. A 3 year old child that has total control over his 32 year old mother. A 3 year old that laughs in my face when I tell him off or try to stop him from destroying something. A 3 year old that never, ever, ever, EVER listens to me.

I find that really hard.

And I keep telling myself, it’s just his autism. It’s just his autism. He doesn’t understand. But I do wonder sometimes, his behaviour is getting worse. At what point, is it autism, and when is it naughty? How do I tell the difference? Are the two mixed in together sometimes? And shouldn’t I know as his mum when it’s down to social communication issues, or when he’s just being a 3 year old who doesn’t want to be told what to do?

He also seems to save up all the really challenging behaviours just for me. When I take him out, I can’t get him to sit anywhere for long (coffee meet ups are becoming a thing of the past) but he is generally very well behaved when he’s in public. I think he’s shy when he’s out. He barely speaks, he just holds my hand and walks to wherever I’m going, and when we get there, he’ll go find a door to open and close or a car to run back and forth for an hour until it’s time to go again. Then we’ll get home and he’ll become loud, stimmy, thumpy and door slammy. Or he’ll shout at me and I won’t be able to understand what he’s saying and it frustrates him even more and makes me sad.

At the weekend when my husband is around, I’ve been known to actually hide! I’ll lock myself in the bathroom or slip quietly off to the bedroom just to sit with my eyes closed for a while. I’ve been dealing with the Pickle’s challenging behaviour all week, and I take the occasional opportunity to run away from it sometimes. I probably shouldn’t…. but my husband does deal with him very well and he’s not as worn down as me. He gets to sit in an adult environment for 40+ hours a week dealing with a whole other type of high pressure. (again this doesn’t make hiding right, but it does mean I know his tolerance is higher than mine when I just need a break!).

And the humbling thing is that, I know that I’m lucky with the Pickle. Compared to some of the things I’ve read about, or seen for myself, he really isn’t that bad. He is a sweet natured little boy who doesn’t meltdown every day, or have any major behavioural issues with other children. If you can get past the door opening/closing obsession, the slamming, the fixations and the routines, he is very easy to get on with and to love. So if I’m finding his older preschool personality so difficult to cope with in the afternoons, how on earth do other parents cope with some of the things I hear about?! I take my hat off to all of you. You are all bloody amazing!

In the meantime, Pickle is going to preschool 4 mornings a week, and I can have some quiet time then to get on with things. Oh my goodness, I love my quiet time. Then it’s off to pick up the Pickle and start the afternoon hometime fun all over again! But is it autism? Or is it sometimes naughty?

And will I learn to tell the difference and be able to parent my son properly before it’s too late?

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4 thoughts on “Autistic? Or Naughty?

  1. mamamrsme

    Hi there, sit down and have a cup of tea! Your life sounds very much like my own. My daughter (5 in May) has severe ASD and goes to a fantastic ASD specific school. Her younger brother is 3 and has much much milder ASD/aspergers to the point some people must think I’m making it up (like I would.) I think I treat my children like I would any other NT kids, although I cannot discipline my daughter in ANY way I tell her if she has been naughty. I doubt it makes a scrap of difference as she just laughs and usually carries on but I won’t excuse her naughtiness with Autism, Autism is the reason she doesn’t understand that its wrong…or that I’m telling her off not the action. I’ll never let her spit or throw food (which she does to any non bland, beige, dry food) and say “oh it’s because she’s autistic. Maybe I’m mean but I just don’t don’t think saying oh she/he is autistic not naughty is a solution because mine can both be blummin naughty!! Sorry for the mini rant, it can just be so frustrating I know xx

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  2. Julie Brighton

    I’m in the exact position people say my child is quite wild, she’s 7 she’s obsessed with toys, can’t go any where much any more hopeing to get help soon you’re not alone big hugs x

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  3. Ain't No Shrinking Violet

    I’m sure every autistic mama must deal with this to some degree. I can’t tell if my kid’s bad behavior is naughty or autistic either, but I have drawn some serious lines in the sand about behavior I will not tolerate. For example, my son has taken to smacking me across the face when I can’t understand what he’s saying…he’s hit me so hard he’s knocked me out of a chair (he’s only three!). Any hitting and he immediately goes into timeout (he gets no warning, just goes straight to timeout). I also do when he’s throwing stuff, as that’s becoming totally out of control lately (he almost broke our window today by throwing a matchbox car at it!). I feel these violent and destructive behaviors must be punished…he does seem to understand a timeout is punishment, even if he doesn’t understand how to apologize afterward.

    Food issues are not worth the fight for me right now…he hasn’t had a veggie since he was one year old. Pick your most important battles, and then follow through every single time he crosses the line. As far as other parent’s judging, they have no idea what we’re up against. That’s one of the reason I don’t hang out with a lot of people right now…it’s just not worth the unsolicited advice and condemnation I receive from people who don’t understand ASD. Good luck!

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