I am a planner. Before my son was born I planned for him to be popular and smart and funny. I did not plan the Autism. But he sure is smart! And funny. But the other day he came home from school and told me that nobody liked him. I know that isn’t true because he is always invited to play dates. And when we walk to school a lot of kids are saying hi to him by name. But he felt that nobody liked him.
You may have heard that Autistic kids (and maybe adults) like to make noises. They are self-soothing noises and are harmless. But they can be annoying. My son loves to make race car sounds. Loudly. The louder the sound, the faster his little car is going in his head.
It’s cute. But it gets annoying very fast, especially when he does it for a long period of time. Well guess what, that’s what he was doing at recess at school. And of course, no kids are going to want to be close to that level of noise. So I asked his ABA therapist what to do.
One suggestion was to let my son know that he can make the noise to his heart’s content- in his room. That way he is away from us and has to make the choice to go in his room, so it’s a conscious way of acknowledging an unconscious habit. Well, he hates being alone, so I have yet to see him take me up on the invitation to go be a car in his room.
The other suggestion was to bring his attention to the behavior and ask him to stop. So I have been doing that- a lot. He will take a lot of reminding because right now this is almost like a tick. He isn’t really aware he is doing it as often as he is. And it feels good- the vibrations in his head and throat are soothing. So we will have to keep reminding him.
The one good thing that has come out of pointing his behavior out to him, is that he often stops when I mention it. Now I can walk beside him without the building annoyance. And he is mentioning the kids at school less often. So I am hopeful that he is feeling less pressure to be exactly like everyone else.
I have also learned that there is a lot of little kids who make funny noises. I was watching the playground the other day before school started. And I saw a bunch of first graders running around making similar noises to what my son does. He is also in first grade. So I am learning that I need to step back and ask myself if what I am observing is Autism, or just being 6. I have a feeling a lot of it is just being 6.
For anyone reading this and wondering about their child, I would suggest you ask an expert. Often teachers have seen enough ‘generations’ of students to know if there is any concern about your child. I took my son to get evaluated because we have a heavy family history of Autism, and he was struggling with several things at once. And I have been very impressed with how much more is known about Autism. The therapy and support services just get better and better with awareness.