Monday, April 16, 2012

Autism Awareness - behaviors

To be clear, I am not diagnosed with Autism. I am diagnosed with sensory processing disorder and disorder of childhood with some hyper-kinetic behaviors. SPD does typically go hand in hand with many Autism Spectrum Disorders and the hyper-kinetic can also be associated with attention deficit hyperactivity issues. (That said, this is my disclaimer.)

For children that have SPD and that are on that Autism spectrum many behaviors are uncontrollable by the child themselves. They need help from those around them. For myself, I have "warning signs" that I exhibit prior to having a problem. Adults that pay attention to me and that get to know me learn these signs pretty quickly. My sensory issues can be closely related to what I eat and so my diet matters too.

In a classroom environment, church or school, I sometimes get overwhelmed if it is loud, bright, chaotic, etc. Mom described it very well the other day when she was explaining how her migraine made her feel. Any little thing hurt, pitches of sound, touch, intensity of light, too much activity going on, all of that can contribute to my behavior.

My "warning signs" start with a complaint. I will say its too loud or say I need my sunglasses. The next step is I get into defensive postures, climbing under tables or desks, cuddling into a trusted adult/sibling, hiding. If the issue is not resolved I get agitated. I sling my arms out at people to chase them away, not trying to hurt them, I just don't want to be social. This is when mom needs to be gotten because if it gets worse from here, it gets ugly.

Why am I sharing this? Not to leave a stigma. I share because there is plenty of time to defuse the situation. If you are dealing with a child like me, you cannot yell at them to correct them, it will only make the situation worse. Yelling at children with sensory issues is an assault on multiple senses. One of my brothers has sensory integration disorder and one of his teachers did not understand what that meant so when she would correct him she would raise her voice, his behavior would get worse, then she would yell. This would continue until he burst out into a rage of throwing objects. The rage would not have happened had the teacher been able to keep her voice calm.

My advice? Get help. Learn how to cope with the behaviors. You are not alone.
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