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Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado

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I Got That Autistic Kid;.: Special Needs Parenting 101
By Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
Friday, September 07, 2007

Rated "G" by the Author.

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A father writes about his ten year old son, who is autistic.

I got that autistic kid. You know, the one who runs around, the one who acts weird out in public, the one who earns me strange looks "for not disciplining him".

My son Jeffrey Myles, is ten years old, yet at times I swear he acts much younger. Sometimes he acts no older'n the age of two. When stressed out in any way, he'll scream at random, or else he'll tear around the house, tearing, wrecking, pulling things apart, causing much in the way of chaos.

In public, he'll take off running (sometimes ripping off his clothes in the process until he's as naked as a newborn jaybird), and then we will spend the next half-hour/forty five minutes searching for him, praying, hoping that nobody has kidnaped him or he hasn't been hit by a car.

Jeffrey was once a bright, happy baby: he learned to walk, talk af the appropriate times, but at about the age of two, he started "regressing"; by the age of three he wasn't talking, and his walking had all but disappeared. He started doing strange things, things like fumbling around with the mess in his diapers (he was once again incontinent), eating things like bugs, worms, dirt, library paste, thumbtacks, stickers--just weird crap.

If he did eat any food, all he'd eat was oatmeal, Cheerios, popsicles, or baby food. Anything else would remain untouched on his plate.

Jeffrey would spend hours watching the fan blades spinning in the box fan (at times he'd try to put his fingers into the fan while it was running; twice he nearly got his finger cut off from the spinning blades), waving his hands in front of his face, or spinning plates on the floor. If we tried to communicate with him, he'd look away, or else he'd focus his eyes on some object ,anything to avoid our gaze. It was maddening.

Now Jeffrey is ten, but he isn't like most ten year olds. He still exhibits some of the bizarre behaviors described above, and he goes to a special school for handicapped children. Now it may seem funny to you because he doesn't look  handicapped; but the truth of the matter he is. He has a developmental disability that is oftentimes misunderstood (or misdiagnosed), and because of it, his social interaction skills have suffered horribly.

He doesn't like being around people; he'd rather spend his time with his cars, with the box fan, or spinning the plates around on the floor than to hold a meaningful conversation.

My wife and I have both tried to be patient, understanding with Jeffrey, but the truth is, we often get angry with him. We find ourselves yelling at him, which only makes him go off all the worse; then we are wondering why we can't control him; he just doesn't understand  the ramifications of his behavior--or why he is doing it. It is highly frustrating.

I wish I knew what to do whenever Jeffery has one of his "self-stimuation" moments; it's embarrassing whenever he exposes himself or plays with himself in public, or when he does his strip tease act in front of people. It's embarrassing when he screams as though he were being killed, or when he purposely makes himself throw up if he doesn't like something.

I am new to the Nashville, Tennessee, area (moved here from Indiana not even six weeks ago), and I feel as though I am the only parent who has this problem. I feel so helpless, so alone.

If anyone could help me cope with this situation, let me know. I'm open to all sorts of suggestions.


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Reviewed by Axilea MU 4/7/2008
Very well explained, both the condition and how difficult it is for a parent to understand and accept it. This is another realistic approach from you, well done!

Reviewed by Christi Anderson 2/12/2008
This is an extremely heartfelt and informative piece of work! Kudos to you for doing such an excellent job!
Reviewed by Brooke Jennings 9/20/2007
Unfortunately for Jeffery, he is trspped inside his body, screaming to get out. He is also probably allergic to wheat products and dairy. Ophra just had a show on this very subject. Maybe you could read about it on her web site.I am not sure if this helps, but good luck too you and Jeffrey. He can not help what he does anymore than any other disabled person can.....
Reviewed by Diane Renna 9/11/2007
I understand your love for your child. My daughter had Sensory Processing Disorder pretty bad - she had issues with sensory modulation, social insecurity, tactile defensiveness, sensory processing, sound sensitivity, hypo/hyper-responsiveness, visual perception problems, and allergies/food intolerance. She is now 10 1/2 and fine - at 5 years old she started receiving services for her help. I investigated and tried traditional and alternative therapies to help her and they worked. Many kids have mercury toxitity and food allergies/intolerances. I recently wrote a children's book to validate children's feelings and to give the parents the links and information about what helps - there isn't much media about what helps - just numbers growing, etc. check out "Meghan's World: The Story of One Girl's Triumph over Sensory Processing Disorder." Maybe you might learn of something that will help your son and your family. Hang in there. We went to hell and back, but along the way we learned to appreciate the simple things in life and what really matters.
Reviewed by Mary Coe 9/8/2007
Excellent write. What great love this dad has. A beautiful heartfelt story.
Reviewed by Georg Mateos 9/8/2007
A parent will ever give up the hope of communicate with the child, because miracles do happen, even if we can't explain them.
Very good told!!!
Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner 9/7/2007

The love of a daddy wanting to communicate with his noncommunicative son is evident in heartbreaking lines: excellent.

(((HUGS))) and love, Karla.

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