As a Chicken Soup co-author I’m always looking for your stories to share with everyone else. Not too long ago I did a “call out” to my members asking for heartwarming stories and was overwhelmed with over 2500 submissions. I know you will enjoy hearing from others so I am going to be sharing them with you on a weekly basis. Here is the twelvth one from Holly McBain!
Cookie-Cutter Mentality Needs to Go
Just now I was researching potty-training because my 6 year old son, who is diagnosed as High Functioning Autistic, still is not using the toilet. He turned 6 on July 29th and is in the 1st grade. Besides being HFA he also has a speech delay including cognition issues. When he was 3 years old he had a vocabulary of about 12 – 15 words. After trying a variety of private and semi-private therapies, we placed him in the PPCD program with the school district and he blossomed. Needless to say he and his brother (Asperger’s Syndrome) are the light of our lives.
Anyway, back to my point about cookie-cutter mentality needs to go: while researching potty-training for people with ASD I once again ran into the proverbial “brick wall” of just set up a routine and stick with it” approach. I really do not understand why that when dealing with a “spectrum” disorder, intelligent professionals want to place everyone in one category. Both of our boys are on the Autism Spectrum with both being extremely intelligent; but that is where their similarities end. From there, they are as different as night and day, so why would one process or plan work for both? It wouldn’t.
How I work with, discipline and deal with them is very different – not only because one is 6 and the other 8, but also because each one is an individual with their own characteristics, tastes, idiosyncrasies and issues. I realize that no one book is going to encompass the litany of possibilities to choose from when developing strategies for your child, however listing in one paragraph how to develop a potty-training routine using a cooking timer is just a wee bit simplified and seems almost condescending because essentially for me it is “been there, done that”.
I am looking for help to understand my child’s issues with potty-training and help him understand what I am trying to explain to him. Have you ever tried asking someone “are you getting the pee signal” who is autistic? God knows what he thinks I am asking – it could be anywhere from thinking a bell should ring to getting a phone call or some acute pain. I have no clue if he really understands because he cannot enunciate to me what is or is not happening just prior to soiling his diaper. So to offer advice like “oh just use a timer and set up a schedule” is useless information for me.
This is what I mean by cookie-cutter mentality – if every person on the Autism Spectrum is different in their issues, why aren’t there a greater variety of ways to help them? You know we are taught not to “pigeon-hole” neuro-typical children because everyone is their own individual entity. Maybe it is time this was extended in greater detail for ASD kids and adults.