A Mother’s Account of Autism (Part 2)

by Melissa Lake – Guest Contributor

So how is Logan doing in school?  Well, he is currently having a wonderful fourth-grade year.  Although he takes classes with the rest of the student population, he has a teacher who is specially trained, called a para-professional, with him at all times.  I met her at the beginning of the school year and informed her of Logan’s past troubles in school.  She is strict with him when necessary, and her discipline has yielded greatly improved results.  Now he spells out all kinds of words at home, and when we travel into town, he rattles off names of businesses.  He loves sitting in the back seat so that he easily can look around.  Like most children, he likes looking at horses, cows, and other animals of nature so we slow down whenever we see them.

Logan loves the parks we visit when we travel and swings to his heart’s content.  On partially cloudy days I like to point at a cloud and ask him what he sees.  I may add a detail to get him to understand that he should add a detail, and he usually will.  His brothers understand that I have to be near him at all times at the park to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself or somebody else, as he will randomly bolt towards a child or car.

Meltdowns are a given on any day of the week.  Like most autistic individuals, Logan does not like a change in routine.  On days when something is not working in his favor, he displays a look of uncontrollable rage, and even at his age, he will still bite, hit, and kick other children.  He tends to go after smaller kids since he, in many respects, is like a four or five year old himself.  It’s just that he’s in a 98 pound body.  Depending on the situation, he may cry and show remorse for his actions, or he may just start giggling.  When he was a few years younger, he would let other children take his toys and just find himself another one.  Now he will grab the toy back and possibly do the hitting or biting as I just mentioned.  His favorite cartoon character is Spongebob Squarepants.  When he recognizes a piece of clothing or other item with Spongebob’s picture, he will immediately insist on having it.  This is accompanied by tears, yelling, and sometimes a complete drop to the floor as he goes into an infantile-like tantrum.

Logan’s older sister Chelsea is an amazing part of his development.  She always expects him to exhibit good behavior.  Thanks to her, he has learned many new ways to do things such as dressing himself, using zippers, and dressing up appropriately for the weather.  However, now all he wants to do is run around in Spongebob costumes, hats, other people’s clothes, and yes, even underwear on his head.  He does many things just like his sister.  For example, he washes and dries his hands just like her. 

Speaking of washing, Logan loves the water and bathes several times a day.  He splashes and plays with joy in the tub, and has been through several packages of bath toys in nine years.  It is his way of communicating with something without being judged.  He enjoys being in the pool any time we are at a hotel, although does not like the deep end due to a scare he had a few summers ago.

Even with the meltdowns and other unpredictable behavior, I want to point out that Logan’s personality is fun, outgoing, and tender for the most part.  He loves his family, and has a best friend from school that he’s known for five years.  In the next installment of this series, I will expand on those particular interactions further.