Monday, March 2, 2009
Sorry I have been gone for so long. I have kinda been anti computer the last couple of weeks. I have been overwhelmed with life and kids and well, stuff and haven't had the desire to sit and surf and write on this blog the way I normally do. I have found that when I get overwhelmed I have to step back and simplify. Guilt got the best of me though and I wanted to write a bit about OCDs.
I have written many times about Connor's obsessive compulsive disorder. He has come a long way since he regressed at eighteen months. He was so compulsive that we were literally held hostage by what Connor would let us, and not let us do. He was the only one that was allowed to turn lights on or off. He was the only one that could turn the TV on or off, etc. When my eighty year old grandfather flushed his own toilet, Connor screamed for hours. It was very traumatic for my Papa.
Sometimes when I want to see how far he has come, I think about those times and how we had to walk on egg shells for so many years. Although Connor doesn't obsess about things like that anymore, he is still very rigid. He still likes to control things. He doesn't like to be wrong. He doesn't want people to disagree with him. He doesn't understand how people could have a different opinion either. He came home from school today and was very concerned that a boy in his class didn't like Mario from Super Mario Bros. Connor is obsessed with Mario. He wants to be Italian. He only wants to eat Italian food. He doesn't want to even hear his little sister watch Dora the Explorer because Dora speaks Spanish, not Italian. It is beyond a cute little character that Connor likes, it is a full blown obsession.
The Mario obsession caught me off guard. I didn't see it coming. I get so excited when Connor likes a character or a show like kids his age, that I didn't realize it had gone from a cute thing he likes, to an obsession. I just want him to like something the way other boys his age like things. I want him to want to watch a show like Spiderman, or play with the latest toy like Bakugan. I get so excited for this type of normality that I am blind to the progression past normal.
Obsessions work that way. They are sneaky. They don't just show up one day and are set in stone, usually. They creep up on you slowly. Connor will like to do something one way, and I think, "Why not?". We can do it that way. Then he wants to do it that way all week, and I think, "Sure". Then I try to do it a different way and he is overwhelmed. Unfortunately, once it is an obsession, the only way to get rid of it is through extinction. Extinction is when we just stop. Cold turkey. This is hard and can really interrupt your life, but so does autism. If we didn't stop Connor, cold turkey, from not letting us flush our own toilet, he would still be holding us hostage. We couldn't go outside of our house or have anyone come over. The older they get the more unsettling it is too. A two year old with issues get swept under the rug as a funny little thing they do when they are little. At nine years old, it is just plain weird.
Fortunately I can talk to Connor about this stuff now. I have told him about autism, sorta, and he doesn't want it. He wants to not have autism, or anything related to it, such as OCD. He started to pitch a fit yesterday about not saying goodbye to a friend of ours when they left our house. I could see the anxiety building. I told him he was obsessing and that it wasn't ok. He calmed right down. Some people don't think it is a good idea to talk to their kids about autism or OCD. They don't want them to feel labeled or "different". I can tell you that Connor already feels different whether he knows it is called autism or not. At least this way he knows what to call it. He also knows how to control it when I tell him that it is his autism that is making him do "XY or Z". He immediately calms down and internalizes what I tell him. It works for us. You have to find what is comfortable for you. For a long time we never used the word "autism" in front of Connor. Pretty soon I realized it would help him to know and not feel like he was just weird or different. Now he feels like he has something to work toward. He has something to fight against, so to speak.