Max flaps and rocks. Oliver has to dance or bounce or spin. I’ve never tried to curb this. I’ve even had meetings at school about Olivers behaviour where I’ve told them this needs to be accommodated. I didn’t understand why, I didn’t really care about the why, I just knew it was something they had to do. Finding out the why though, has helped in my fight to get the necessary accommodations made. I read a blog by Neurodivergent rebel -Christa Holmans and one of her posts was about how stifling her stims made her feel. I would link it but I don’t know how. But it’s worth a read if you find it- am I allowed to do this? If not I’d appreciate someone saying so. I don’t want to get sued.
Since then I joined twitter where there are many actual autistics who don’t mind being asked questions which is great. They can speak from their point of view and it helps me understand what my sons might be feeling or how to help them better. I can talk now to other mums who are going through the same kind of struggles we all are as parents. It’s like a win/win.
Oliver had a really hard time in school last year. So much so we had the behaviour team etc in. I think I’ve already written about this so I won’t go on. This year has been great so far (touch wood) as schools approach has been different. The senco is on the ball, she seemed to really understand that it was their attitude to him that needed to change. He now has “brain breaks” built into his day. He has a spinner he can sit on and spin. He has cushions and a bean bag that he can hide under when he needs to block it all out. He doesn’t have to wear shoes and socks. He has 2 chewbuddies and he has blu tac for fiddling with when doing his work. He has an “outside” card for when he needs to run. As a result he is sitting, or lying on the carpet and learning. He knows he has so much work to do each day but instead of it being overwhelming and stressy he now has the flexibility and means of telling them it’s too much. He gets the work done – I know he has to do that after all he’s at school to learn. But now when he takes himself to his cushion corner (or asks for a break) his TA says “work next Oliver” instead of trying to force the issue. They say it’s usually 5 or 10 mins then he comes back and does his work. There’s no tears, there’s been no meltdown, there’s the odd squeak of protest but he’s so much calmer than last year. Sometimes he just does a lap of the playground and he’s ready to do half hour of maths. I knew that if they gave him this control it would work better. It’s not pandering to him, he can not help this. This is part of who he is. He isn’t being awkward but it’s taken me 2 years to get them to understand this. And no it doesn’t make the other kids ask why he’s getting time to run about or play up because kids know and they get it. They don’t have the rigidity of societal expectations built in so much at that age.
My kids can’t sit still. What kid can? I remember the head saying that to me “he just can’t sit still, he’s disruptive”. No love, you trying to force him to be something he’s not is causing disruption. Maybe it’s cos I’m used to it that it’s not an issue. Half way through a game or building session and he gets up to let off steam. So what? After reading how it could make the boys feel repressing it I’m glad I took the route I did. He’s getting through his work better than ever because he’s being understood. I’m glad I had the Why? in the end. Some people don’t need an explanation. Unfortunately many do.
I’ve never been of the opinion that I know best. I’ve never thought I know it all. I’ve never wanted to shut down opinions. I think working together, parents and autistics, we can make the world a better place. It’ll take time- change always does- but we can do it. Understanding a behaviour doesn’t mean you are trying to change it. For me it means that I can ensure my sons get the support they need. I’m thankful for everyone in the autistic community, I learn from all sides, which makes me a better parent for all my kids