We’ve learnt that there is nearly always a reason for the more irritating little habits of Wee Man. We have to be very careful to make sure we identify a behaviour, and then investigate what it’s telling us about how he is feeling, before deciding what to do about it. If he’s just being a little shit, then we will deal with that appropriately. But most of the time there is a valid reason connected to his ASD…and no matter how irritating these habits are, we won’t stop him doing them; we just let it go. Here are a few examples:
What he does: Sofa diving.
Cushions flying everywhere, all bent out of shape and tossed on the floor. Bums and willies wriggling all over the place (he’s always naked – see below). Monz Man chose the sofa when Wee Man was only a few months old. It’s something I will never let him forget – who the hell gets a sofa with hundreds of loose, feather pillows when you have kids??
Why he’s doing it: Sensory seeking!
He’s going mental with his lack of proprioceptive* feedback from his body. He has no idea where his body is in space, so he’s flinging himself into something that will provide that desperately needed sensory feedback. I should be thankful it’s not a wall!
What he does: Barnet band mugging.
He will rip my hair band out of my hair at every single opportunity he gets. It drives me absolutely bonkers. It can turn me from a calm, chilled out, happy Mummy who is wistfully floating through the garden with skirts a billowing as a gentle breeze brushes past; to a swirling, swearing devil with a GRAB, RIP, WRENCH, SCREAM (that’s me), as Wee Man has caught hold of my head and tugs out my hair band.
Why he’s doing it: Again it’s sensory.
He fiddles with things. When he finds something that satisfies his need to fiddle, he will get attached to it and seek it out. Previously he had a thing for baby wipes (grab and chew, grab and chew…ewww!) so I’m not sorry that I no longer have to go collecting all the soggy wipes from around the house, but the hair band thing seems to be here to stay. Part of me likes to think that perhaps it’s because they are mine…but that’s just the romantic in me!
What he does: Bums and willies.
Wee Man is naked pretty much all of the time when he is at home. This has been the case since he was very small, and learned how to take his clothes off. Before that, he was probably just really, really uncomfortable and clearly grouchy! Right now, as I’m writing this, he is sitting on the sofa, with his legs akimbo, wearing diddly squat. The view is truly delightful.
Why he does it: SENSORY (are you spotting a theme here?)!
He doesn’t like wearing clothes. They actually hurt him. He also can’t tell when he’s hot or cold and I guess being naked makes it easier for him to regulate his temperature? I may have made that bit up but who knows eh?!
He also has no sense of embarrassment or of being self conscious. We have tried to teach him this but naturally he is completely and utterly unaware that being naked in front of someone else is inappropriate. There is actually a rather beautiful sort of innocence and naivety about him…which will need a lot of protecting.
What he does: Mr bossy boots.
Wee Man is not shy when it comes to making it clear what he wants and how he wants to get it (or who he wants to get it for him!). He will tell everyone around him what to do, declaring “I’m the boss around here”. The way he goes about it will vary, depending on how desperate he is and sometimes, on who he is with; he can be incredibly polite, normally when in a good mood and with friends or people he doesn’t know that well; or downright rude – it’s normally us who cop this one!
Why he does it: Control.
Wee Man has to feel like he is in control. It’s not a choice. It’s a pathological need that he has that makes it almost impossible for him to relinquish control. And that’s fine – I just need to be really careful and clever with how I manage him. I’ll admit that being bossed around by an almost six year old is pretty hard to handle, particularly when you’re reaching the end of your tether. But I’m a grown up and I can take it – I know where this behaviour is coming from and it’s not out of disrespect or lack of manners. Besides, we all know who is really in charge, right?
There are just a few of our quirky Wee Man’s little habits that drive me to distraction. Believe me, there are plenty more, so I’ll save those for another time…until then, how’s about you share with me a little bit? What do your Wee Men or Misses do that drives you insane…but you choose to ‘let it go’?
*Proprioception is the way we can ‘feel’ where all our body parts are in relation to each other (and also ‘see’ them in our mind’s eye), without actually having to touch them with a hand or look at them with our eyes. This sense helps us to plan, to position, and to grade our movements without always having to use vision to check what we are doing. [definition from http://www.sensoryandmore.com ]