I had a phenomenal time at Harsha's Lunch & Learns for parents. I just love them! It is always a great time to not only talk with the head ABA person who is so full of knowledge but to talk with other parents.
I had the pleasure of talking with the board certified behavior analyst after our parent meeting. The topic of our discussion was Andrew.
We discussed Andrew's anxiety which is only getting worse. Andrew will no longer go to the class at the library. We sometimes will not go to Sunday school and will not participate in the activity with the other kids at church. When a large group of kids is around, he wants to leave. He starts biting his nails and he gets the most concerned look on his face that I have ever seen.
If he knows he has Harsha the next day, he starts worrying about it the evening before at home. He bites his nails and fusses and says he doesn't want to go. On some mornings I have to fight Andrew to get out of the van to go into Harsha. It is not unusual for him to cry and have a tantrum refusing to go into any of these places. On our way to Wood River on Saturday, he vomited from his stress and anxiety.
Kim, the board certified behavior analyst told me that Andrew is starting to just now show some classic autism symptoms. This is normal for kids with mild autism. Most of the kids who have mild autism, like Andrew, are not diagnosed till they are 4 or 5 years old because their symptoms just now start showing. This is partly due to the immaturity of their brain. Most of the time by the time a child turns 4, their brain starts hitting some "mature" areas. A child with autism's brain does not which is why now you start seeing some symptoms.
I received a ton of knowledge of how to handle all of this with Andrew. Unfortunately, the hard part is getting others to understand why I do the things I do with Andrew and why I handle the things I do with Andrew because he appears to be completely "normal" because he can speak. However, just like I discussed with Kim, he can talk but his conversation and understanding what he is talking about is not there. Andrew can not tell me why on anything. If I ask Andrew why he doesn't want to go to the library, he can't tell me. He doesn't understand what I am saying. If I give him two choices of why, he just repeats them. Andrew can not understand how he feels and he can't express why he feels the way he does which is very typical with autism. Andrew can talk which fools everyone. I knew this all along and it felt great to get reassured from Kim yesterday.
I have lots of projects and ideas to start implementing with him to help with these problems. Andrew appears to be just fine at places but over time he explodes and just like the snap of a finger, he will refuse to go or participate because he knows he can't handle. He handled it for too long before and was not able to say, "I don't like the way I feel at __________ because of __________" Therefore, he snaps and changes and the next thing you know, he won't go anymore.
Most likely, while at the library, Andrew knew that the other kids his age were sitting and listening to the story and participating. He was not. It is hard for him to listen to what the teacher was saying because the other children and their parents were too distracting to him. This is the same reason why he doesn't go to Sunday school and does not want to participate in church activities with the other children.
From now on, Andrew has to be eased into every situation, every new place, and every place with people he is not used to in order to help him with his anxiety problems.
Here are a few pictures of him at Harsha last week and this week.
As I said all along, he has more problems than what it appears. I am excited to start helping him with his new symptoms that keep on appearing.