August 10th, 2010

No Discipline

Becca Sanders

We have never had to discipline my son H., who is now seven.

Oh, there’s been an occasional time out and we do remind him of things he should or should not be doing: “Use your fork. Honey, use your fork. We don’t eat with our hands. No, fork. Fork. Fork. FORK!

But because of his autism, I don’t think he “gets” what boundaries are or how to push up against them. Any transgressions he makes are usually side-effects of poor impulse control – not misbehavior.

Example: every year our local elementary school holds its picnics at a park on a nearby lake. This year  I decided to accompany his class. Before we left, the teacher gave the class a list of “don’t.”

“If a ball goes in the lake, what do we do?” she asked the class.

“Leave it in the lake!”

“That’s right – stay away from the lake! And if a ball goes in the street, what do we do?”

“Ask a grown-up to get it!”

“Yes! And if a ball is snatched up by a crazy man wielding a hatchet?”

Okay, I made that one up.

Ball policies firmly in place, we headed down to the lake and made for the playground. H. has an aide with him at school at all times, and as we pushed H. in the swing we chatted about this and that. Now, H. loves the swing, but he also loves the water. He sees water, he wants in. Cold temps? Feh! No swimsuit? No problem!

I think you can see where this is going.

In the midst of our nice chat, H. bolted for the lake. That kid can move when he wants to – and he wanted to. “You go that way! I’ll head him off this way!” his aide shouted as we ran, Starsky-and-Hutch style, to block his way. By the time we reached him he was a foot and a half from the water. And we were laughing hysterically.

I think H. knew he wasn’t supposed to go in the water, but he had no idea why. It makes no sense to him, just like it makes no sense that he can’t just snuggle up to that guy at McDonald’s and eat his fries. I imagine his inner logic goes something like, “I like fries. Those are fries over there. I shall go and eat them.”

Yes, H. is without guile, which makes him hard to discipline. But easy to love.

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We did a review a while ago of dry shampoo. Here’s an alternative when you don’t have time to wash, but want to get rid of the oily-ness. Sprinkle some baking soda on your hair, comb through then quickly fluff your hair with a blow dryer. (note: You can also add a little scented baby powder to keep your hair smelling clean!)