Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Keepin' it real-destroying stuff and Autism

Stephen has broken 3 pairs of full ear cover headphones in the last month. They all have had the wires ripped off the jack or the wire ripped in half. No idea how it is happening but I'm sure it's an accident because Stephen LOVES his headphones. Luckily, I stocked up on some very cheap, I think they were about $5 a piece, not very comfy, but are better than nothing full ear cover headphones.

He was rocking in his glider, backwards on his knees, two nights ago and tipped it over and hit his forehead on his old fashioned metal radiator. We were so concerned with his head injury of course that we didn't inspect the chair. By the way, he is fine and was left with 2 vertical lines on his forehead but no bumps, swelling or bleeding thank God! I moved the chair to a safer spot that if he continued his backwards rocking, he wouldn't be able to tip it and if he did, he would hit his cabinet with his books and not get hurt badly. So now the back of the glider is the side you see when you walk in his room and I went to get him ready for bed and noticed that one of the rungs in the back was broken in half on one side and sticking out. Thank God for packing tape. We will try to remove the rung and get a replacement dowel this weekend. If we can't fix it than we will get more grant money to replace it.

We just replaced his computer desk because he was picking off the veneer in many areas and had just worn it out.

We have come to accept over the years that Stephen is going to destroy or break things due to his Autism and just being a young boy. He either breaks things on accident, is seeking stimulation, gets really frustrated or if something has a tear or hole in it than he just can't resist picking at it or making it bigger. He also just wears out his books and DVDs from handling them so much.

He has torn apart chairs, stuffies, broken numerous blinds and curtain rods, broken several glass ceiling fixtures in our last apartment, chewed toys (some were Olivia's), chewed or ripped apart MANY earbuds and headphones, picked holes in walls and peeled off the paper on drywall in our last apartment, chewed or bit holes in clothing, broken a few disc drives on his computer, etc.

I let him know I'm not happy about it but it's hard to get mad at him when he can't tell you why he did it. We explain that what he did was wrong and why he shouldn't do it and try to figure out a way to prevent it from happening if he can't stop himself. For example, he loves to open curtains and blinds and look outside. We got rid of the blinds because he just kept breaking off pieces from pulling them apart to look outside. We replaced all our standard white curtain rods with decorative ones that seem more sturdy. We put tab top curtains in his room which slide much easier over the rods. If he needs to be shown a gentler way of doing or handling something than we do that as a way of trying to prevent something from getting broken again.

Intent is a very important factor when responding to a child who has broken or destroyed something. How can I get really upset with him if he didn't intentionally break something or he can't help doing what he did to break it?

So we adapt. We try to create or buy things that are "Stephen proof" or accept that things like books and DVD's cannot be "Stephen proofed" and will need to be replaced frequently.

Are your kids prone to destroying things? How do you respond and why?


Sunday said...

Oh my goodness I know how you feel!

My 2 have destroyed so many items that I have dubbed them the Samnami and the Nornado. They too can level a house in under 60 seconds!

To date I believe we have gone through:
*3 Televisions (Noah would climb on top of them and then push them over breaking the tube, the electrical cord, or both
*Dozens of DVDs and audio CDs
*3 sets of computer speakers
*4 computer keyboards
*3 DVD players
*1 Very expensive Stereo system (I told my Dad not to buy it for me, but he didn't listen)
*2 Dining room chairs
*Every square inch of carpet in my house
*1 Crate & Barrel Rug (Fecal smearing..need I say more?)
I could probably go on and on but we could both probably help round out each other's lists!

My frustration is in the compulsiveness that seems to accompany autism. Sam especially is both obsessive about his movements and actions and compulsive about needing to do them or his whole world melts down. I too struggle with wanting to discipline him and yet knowing much of what he does he cannot help.

The McNultys said...

My autistic daughter (3 years old) likes to climb on everything, but by and large seems to be pretty gentle; she likes to rip paper though, so we cannot even leave a newspaper around! My typical 6 year old daughter, on the other hand, does everything with such gusto!! She hugs too hard, high fives too hard, colors, plays with and throws stuff way too hard. She has a gentle side too, but cannot seem to reign the other side in and then gets in trouble!

Queenbuv3 said...

Sunday-Oh, the fecal smearing...our son was not fully potty trained until he was about 8. I know how to get poop out of clothing, rugs, etc. He loved to smear poop before he was fully potty trained. If someone told me 10 years ago that human feces would not phase me in the least someday I would have called them crazy. I have seen all the ways a human being can use poop as an artistic medium!

I still have to wipe his bum and he hates when I make him do it because he is afraid of getting poop on his hands and sniffs his fingers after each wipe. I just get a kick out of watching my son be so cautious and even grab a tissue before he picks something up off the floor that he thinks might be poop, never is, and then sniff his hand after he throws whatever it is away. He is so freaked out by poop now, ROFL!! I hope your son/sons grow out of it like mine did. It really is amazing how bad things were with Stephen in every category when he was younger and to see how he is now : )

The destruction will slow down too.

The McNultys-My son climbed on and jumped off everything at that age! It was so bad that we had to staple plastic coated rabbit fence up on the inside of his windows because we were afraid he would climb inside the sill (sp?), they were very large sills and open the windows and fall out or just fall off and hurt himself. Guess who fell off the sill and broke their wrist? My daughter, when she was around that age! Go figure.

It's always been tempting to think that all the bad behavior and destruction is because of his Autism but then we had our daughter and saw her go through some of the same stages of development. Just like you were saying, it's your NT child that is too rough and aggressive not the child with Autism. I always wonder how much of my son's personality is just who he is and how much is his Autism.


Yip. We're on #5 earphones. I don't know how he find them.

Down to buying the dollar store earphones, just in case...