Friday, January 21, 2011

Stim City Limits

Sometimes it seems as if we are defining Audrey's obsessions or self-stimulating behaviors as pretty much anything that she enjoys doing.  Which is really unfair.  It's like if she is super into something or doing anything for longer than 15 minutes, we have to assume it's an unhealthy obsession and that we should redirect her to something else.

If left to her own devices, Audrey will be left to her own devices.  By that I mean the computer, video games, and the iPhone.  My husband spends at least half of his free time swatting her away from these activities, although he's not so good the "redirect" part of it.  He just wants her to stop what she's doing, and I guess figures that if he does this often enough she will eventually turn into a typical child, quietly retire to her bedroom, and start putting on three-act plays with her Barbies for hours on end.

And his latest bogeymen (amongst many...don't get me started) further exacerbate the situation...namely EMF's.  As in electromagnetic fields.  These are the evil forces that are flying through the air from lights, phones, and computers that compromise our ability to rid ourselves of toxins in the environment.  The upshot of this is that he doesn't like Audrey to play with my iPhone or be on the computer.

Well, if it's really that important, I guess I can find something else for her to do...I mean, who am I to stand in the way of my daughter's health and well-being.  Wait.  WHAT?  Yeah, there is NO WAY on God's green earth that I'm not letting her play on the computer.  Until an EMF takes human form and starts stuffing her into a sack, I could not care less.

You may have heard that there is a big game on Sunday.  I believe it is a, how you say, football game?  We live in Chicago, so I guess it's the Mustaches?  the Pork Bellies?  No, that's not right.  Anyway, it's a big game.  And my husband is very into it.  He's a big fan.  He's going to want to watch it from the opening kickoff until the last second without interruption.

Hmmmm...I wonder what Audrey will be doing while the game's on?  I can think of a couple of things that would occupy her for the duration of the game.  What do you want to bet that the EMF's will be taking the afternoon off on Sunday?

34 comments:

  1. I like how men try to parent the kids and how they know it all and then as soon as something is important to them, they think that all the stuff they've been trying to get YOU to do is now okay because they don't have the time to do anything but hold the remote in one hand and a beer in the other.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Easy solution that can make everyone in your family happy and EMF safe - tin foil hats. What's that? You already wear tin foil hats? Well then, I suggest duct tape and matching Haz-Mat Suits.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh yes, I will let The Boy play with anything that won't make fire on Sunday. And there are TWO big playoff games on Sunday. So there will be stimming and there will be face-stuffing of favorite foods, and I will even contemplate sedatives of some kind if necessary to keep him nice and toasty.

    ReplyDelete
  4. LOL It is convenient how those EMFs can be turned on and off depending on the need one has for the child to be quiet and not interfere with sacred male activities like football and scratching. We don't need to worry about them here in Michigan - we have the Lions who might do better if they let the cheerleaders play.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "He just wants her to stop what she's doing, and I guess figures that if he does this often enough she will eventually turn into a typical child"
    You've put into words here something I've struggled in describing about my ex. This resonates so ... thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  6. My husband has been on that kick lately too! What were they passing out flyers at the airports?

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have to say, in a way, i am blessed(?) with the opposite type of husband. He pretty much doesn't give a rat's ass if a behavior is a stim or not, but for God's sake! If it keeps Big T from screaming, let him keep on keepin' on.

    I am kind of on that same plan, though, especially after 4 - count 'em, 4 a days of having Big T and Little A home from school sick.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm just learning about this stim thing with Nate. I get that the flip-your-truck-over-and-spin-the-wheel-forever thing is a stim, but didn't realize that his goofy squish-your-eyes-super-tight-and-open-them-and-repeat thing, which started when he met his super pretty therapist, Alison, was a stim thing, too. His therapist, Lisa, saw him do it today and told me that's what it was. Lord love a duck. Can't stop him from squinting. He also enjoys spending endless minutes poking at bits of dust in sunbeams. I think it would be nice to say that was a stim but, really, I think it's more a critique of my housekeeping skills....

    ReplyDelete
  9. I spent a long time trying to redirect the stims. Then I discovered that I could watch an entire Patriots game while my son lined up all his Hot Wheels cars with black bottoms.
    But now that the Patriots blew the playoffs, I'm back to redirection.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank goodness we aren't the only ones. Jaylen will play computer, phone, and Leapster Explorer Games for hours on end if I let him.

    ReplyDelete
  11. @Rebecca: Tell it sister girl. I so feel you.

    j: Thanks for the special dispensation...I hereby pronounce that Sunday shall be National Stim Day...have at it, kiddos!

    @Kelly: I guess there is the other extreme too...it's so hard to strike a balance and know how much is too much.

    @Nate's Mom: I think you're OK with the squinting and the dust thing...I'd take those any day!

    @Alysia: We should start some kind of Blog Hop around that...shameful reasons why we let our kids stim for hours on end. I'm gearing up for an epic day of red carpet on the day of the Academy Awards.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I look at stims as more of a barometer: increasing or decreasing frequency or intensity can be one, but only one, indicator of increasing or decreasing anxiety. When anxiety gets out of control, GL starts screaming and hitting people. Address the anxiety, and not only does he stop hitting and screaming, the stims decrease, too. He just doesn't seem to need them as much. As for the stims themselves, I say, if it's not hurting anyone, and it helps him cope, why not just leave him the hell alone?

    On a similar note, why do we tolerate some special interests, like sports, which can be every bit as bizarre and "autistic" to an outsider as anything our spectrum kids come up with, as "healthy", "normal", and "socially acceptable", but treat their harmless and satisfying (to them) interests like a disease?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Haha! I'm going to post something kinda similar next week. My husband can drive me so nuts! I might need to take a trip to the Dive Bar! LOL

    ReplyDelete
  14. Er... computer, video games, i-phone? That's precicely what NT kids do!
    Papa Bear is right! Have you seen this?
    http://aspergersquare8.blogspot.com/2010/02/perseveration-in-workplace.html
    It did make me smile.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Oh we are just soaking in the EMF's over here. It is either that or a mind-numbing amount of talking. I will risk the sack for five minutes of quiet.

    ReplyDelete
  16. OMG...your husband rocks! I can imagine the full on crazy conversations he and I could get into! I hate EMFs too and want to go go back to old fashioned broadband. I don't think he needs to worry about iPhones though, that's just radio waves................

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love your blog ! I hope it turns into a book which I will then give as a gift to parents of NT children and they will love it so much, they will feel sorry they don't have an ASD kid as well !

    Aha- to stim or not to stim, herein is the question ! Here is my MO with my 10-year old ASD son. The litmus test is :does he fall apart upon removal of the stim? If the answer is no, then it's still within semi-normal limits and let him have at it. If the answer is yes, then it's an unhealthy stim. And then that particular stim comes out according to some prespecified and agreed upon rules (I know, I must have been a sadist in a previous life). For example you get 2 minutes of free stim time for every....(insert goal of the day) good effort , if you dazzle me you get 5 minutes. If you manage to intelligently rationalize your need to stim you get it all. Also- rule of thumb, the Wii only comes out on the week ends. The i-phone only if you do my educationally chosen apps and if you take nice turns with your sister who is also an i-phone affictionado etc.

    Please, please blog about your husband's boogeymen- I want to show to my husband how stim-aware and responsible other dads are :)

    My philosophy is that if I traumatize him by not letting him stim too much, he can always discuss it later in life with his shrink.

    Lillian

    ReplyDelete
  18. Um, don't ever let your husband visit my house, he would give me a really hard time about all the EMF's we let ourselves and our kids suffer!! Jen

    ReplyDelete
  19. Here's my take on stimming. Is it keeping them from learning or progressing. See, there's nothing to learn at home that is new for 'Bot, except social skills. He's quite verbal, so soaking up language is not an issue for him. In fact, considering my potty mouth, it might be better that he is tuned out! So, with him, I allow some after school stimming. It calms him down. I also allow, even encourage, in the car stimming because it cuts off lots of fights with sister. For Tinkerbell, who is still struggling with language, stimming is a little less acceptable. I want her little mind to be present in the moment. I try to redirect her, but even with her I allow some "we just got home" stimming to ease the transnition. I guess I see stimming as a coping mechanism and not really a terrible thing. And yes, I have allowed blatant, uninhibited stimming so that I could have five minutes of peace and quiet!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I should probably point out that I divide GL's stims into two categories: physical (hand flapping, rocking, spinning, etc.) and verbal (for him, mostly repetitive questions and reciting scripts). I think most people try to stop the physical stims because they mark our kids socially as one of "those" kids. With or without stims, GL's going to stand out. So I don't try to stop those, especially not at home, where it's okay to be different. But I do try to address the underlying anxiety.

    As for scripts, he usually recites scenes from his favorite movies, and wants us to join in. It seems to be his way of engaging people in social conversation. He talks with me about subjects I think are important, so why not talk with him about things that matter to him, even if they are mostly Disney scripts? The exception is when they come across as wildly inappropriate. We had to take away Monsters, Inc. because he insisted on quoting the torture scene in public. He tends to mumble, so other parents only heard parts of it, and thought he was calling their kids cretins.

    His repetitive questions usually relate to his schedule. He wants reassurance that he knows what's coming next. When I get tired of answering the same question, I ask, "What did I say?" and he repeats the answer back to me, which satisfies him.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Too funny. BTW, how is hubby's hand/eye coordination. I bet Audrey's is better. ;o)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Oh, my dear, do I hear you. Here's a little fun trick...Take a week vacation away from home. Put hubby in charge! See how long the EMF concerns last...or you can buy an EMF blocker.

    ReplyDelete
  23. @PapaBear: I think that sometimes stims are less anxiety-induced than they are a release of anxiety, e.g.: kids that manage to keep it together all day at school and then want to come home and have at their favorite activities undisturbed.

    @CherylD: I could post to the Dive Bar multiple times a day.

    @bbsmum: That is hilarious! I've never seen that. I would forward it to my husband but he wouldn't watch and if he did he would just argue with me about how much more socially acceptable it is to talk about football than parrots.

    @JoyMama: Wait. WHAT? I hope you are not the halftime sacrifice up there.

    @AMR: I almost name-checked you in this post because I knew that, if anyone, you would be into it. Yeah, you are never allowed to talk to my husband...you two would be extremely dangerous together! I don't know how you could talk to him anyway....carrier pigeon? Smoke signals? You and he need to retire into the wilderness!

    @Lillian: I have a similar system...it's never good if it causes a tantrum when you make them stop. Then it becomes a "reinforcer". I guess the grass is always greener when it comes to husbands :) Mine makes me nutty, but I could see where being totally lax isn't good either...everything in moderation! I know...impossible with an ASD kid. Thanks for reading and commenting!!!

    @Apples: A wise person once said "if it's keeping them from learning or social situations then it's not good...otherwise, there's nothing inherently wrong with stims". The hard part is that we parents make ourselves nuts with the guilt that every second of every day is supposed to be a learning or social opportunity. Except when the game is on.

    @Wendy: Depends on if we're talking sports or video games.

    @Claire: I LOVE YOU.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I agree with one of the Anonymice: would love to hear more about your husband's boogeymen.

    The electromagnetic thing is causing a big stink in Ontario at the moment: some parents are zealously opposing WiFi in schools. Health Canada keeps coming out with: "They're fine! Wtf?"

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hey ho...Wisconsin girl here. Unfortunately I have to work during the game tomorrow, but I'm SURE my hubby will be MORE than happy to let Kai stim away! In fact, I just read your post to him and he said "hell yeah! Kai can definitely get his 'stim on' tomorrow!"

    BTW, he managed to talk me into purchasing my FIRST GB Packer wear ever last weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I love Mondays.

    That's the day my husband goes back to work.

    Aren't EMF's causing a hole in the ozone?

    ReplyDelete
  27. So what about all of us who work (worked) in offices on computers all day? I'd go crazy if I worried about ALL the things that might affect my health or that of my kids. Left an award for you over at mine x

    ReplyDelete
  28. Reminds me of those myths our parents taught us when we were young:
    "Don't sit too close to the TV, because it has dangerous rays that can wreck your eyes." While the old CRT screens did produce very low-intensity x-rays, they would not "wreck your eyes." When kids sit right in front of the screen, pretty soon they stand up, and the adults can't see. (And remember when big, expensive TVs had fancy wooden cabinets, and sat directly on the floor? A 6 yo could block the whole screen just by sitting in front of it.)

    Or how about, "Coffee will stunt your growth?" No, but who wants to be around a kid who's hyped up on caffeine, or has a withdrawal headache?

    ReplyDelete
  29. Dummy here had to google EMF.
    I need to check on this bu think unless you are stimming on the computer while re-heating leftovers in the microwave under fluorescent lights you are ok. :)
    Go Packers!!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I don't give a crap what Katie does, as long as it keeps her occupied. Wants to play on the ipod or computer forever, go for it. She want to chew her dang hair all day long to keep calm...gross it up. Lining Barbies up...whatevs. If that's what it takes to keep her centered or whatever, it's fine by me. I don't even think my husband knows what stim means...he just calls stuff her obessions, and, yes, he does think he has some magic (yelling) plan to throw her into normie-land. Good luck is all I say. Good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I had a friend that believed that too. I am not saying she is wrong but I guess i simply don't know if its true or not. My friend also does not allow a microwave in her home for that reason too.

    Anyway, we have this problenm too. my son is drawn to the computer and video games yet I feel like I can't let him do the things he loves the most because its not social-interacting. So he gets 30 mins...after that he obsesses it for the entire rest of the day.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Oh, Good Lord! Your hubby reminds me of one of my housemates, who insists on having the head end of his bed pointed North, and thinks that microwaves make food non-nutritious, and completely fills up the house with kitschy bric-a-brac. I'm talking Victorian-womanly here. No, he's quite hetero, served honorably in the U.S. Army, married and produced two sons; he's just weird, possibly more so than I am.

    ReplyDelete