Turning the Tide

He’s made a lot of progress, but Justin has had some behavioral issues lately — particularly the way he’s been completely obsessed (I mean scary obsessed) with writing out the names of everyone in the afternoon kindergarten class, over and over and over and over. It’s especially concerning cause he’s in the morning class and therefore these are kids he doesn’t even know; he simply reads their names on the wall in his classroom. That’s all he was doing with his spare time, to the point that I had to hide the pens in the office (he was scribbling on blank cheques after running out of scrap paper). His behavior consultant tells us that writing out those names is Justin’s way of calming himself, which is fine, but he needs other coping techniques too. So we’ve been redirecting him to other activities (which is no small feat considering he types out names on the computer, makes names out of Play-Doh, even uses his own finger to write on the carpet), but then his anxiety goes up and he starts having toileting accidents and just generally bouncing off the walls. Argh.

So what did we do? We made a rule that there’s no writing allowed while the TV is on (Aspies really respect rules), we’re getting him engaged in really physical activities a few times a day (cause burning off that “autism energy,” as I call it, is very important), we’re making more effort to sit with him when he does his activity books to get him to follow the directions instead of just covering the pages with names (it works, but it’s time-consuming) and I put a new sign in his room with a list of rules for quiet time (he loves having a list that tells him exactly what he’s supposed to do). He’s had a much better weekend, but man, I’m exhausted. I would not have believed how much energy it takes to keep him on track. Wow.