Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Learning a New Normal!!

Niko, Jacky and their friend in the red.

I don't know how many of you have a child, that has Autism, or knows someone who has a child with Autism. Our family was cast into the the Autism net officially in 2007. As many of you may have read, in my earlier entries, my step-son Niko age 10, has PDD NOS, an umbrella for Autism. Niko is very high functioning, he just has very linear thinking.

When I first met Niko, he was 5 years old. He had trouble speaking and threw many temper tantrums. At first, I thought the temper tantrums were due to his Daddy and I dating, but as I got to know Niko and spent more time with him, I began to wonder what was exactly going on with this otherwise sweet little boy. There was something much more going on than mere temper tantrums. I began journaling the episodes of temper and I kept in close touch with Niko's teachers and was a frequent visitor at our pediatrician's office. Finally one day she witnessed what I was talking about. Niko, threw a tantrum in her office. She observed the same things that I had been observing. When Niko was in this state, you could look him directly in the eye and not see the loving, sweet boy that I knew and loved. Where did this boy go?

Dr. Ramanan finally referred me to a Child Psychiatrist. Niko went through several series of test and was seen by not only the Dr., but a child behavioral counselor as well.

Finally we had an answer to what was afflicting Niko. Now we had to learn how to cope with PDD NOS, as a family. Niko thrives in a world that is full of order and routine. The slightest variance can cause his world to shift off balance. He doesn't have the coping skills to deal with the shifts that everyday life can often take. We had to learn how to equip him with those skills. We, as his family, had to learn how to best help him. Niko has a passion for numbers and time. For someone such as myself, who lives in an abstract world most of the time, it is hard to break things down to literal time and numbers. Simple things, such as telling Niko that we are going to the store to get some things, can become an overwhelming obstacle to Niko. He gets stuck in the literal sense, of exactly how many items are we going to get. If you tell him an exact number, and then vary from that number, this sets of a domino effect within Niko.

My husband, Niko's Dad, and myself, along with Niko's Mom and step-dad, currently share joint custody of Niko. For now, Niko lives with his mother, but we have him on weekends and holidays. This in itself was a big change for Niko. We are all taking a role in helping him learn to navigate in a non -conforming world. My husband Phil and I have to come up with a plan for Niko, a routine of sorts, that he will be able to follow, when he is at our home. Since he is here on weekends, we do not want, so much structure, that the rest of us can't relax, but we want to give Niko enough structure to make him feel safe and secure.

This child has touched me emotionally, he is a very astute young man, he is very trusting and very loving. I feel blessed that God has allowed me be apart of his life.

If anyone has any suggestions on how to do this, please feel free to let me know in the comment section. I will be glad to have any suggestions.

I look forward to the ideas and suggestions. Thanks for stopping by and please continue to read as I will blog, from time to time, on Learning a New Normal!!

God be with you, Renee

1 comment:

M said...

Thank you for visiting my blog (about autism). It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job learning a new kind of normal. Just knowing the need for routine and structure is a great start. take care--jml.