Monkey is our first child – so every new parenting experience has an autism lens. We don’t have any experience parenting a neurotypical child so (like any first time parent) everything is new and we deal with things as we get them. Given that pretty much everyone around us is neurotypical, it makes parenting that much more of a challenge. There are some things that we deal with that others deal with too (because…toddlers), and there are other things that we deal with that people don’t have advice for – because they don’t have the experience of parenting a neurodiverse child.
Lately, I have been dealing with a lot of hitting behaviours from Monkey. It seems that she is doing it for attention, and I am trying to follow the behaviour plan given to us by our Instructor Therapists, but it has been increasing and I am not sure what to do about it. The more I say “no” or try to not give her attention, the more the behaviour is increasing. It is mostly with me rather than my husband J for some reason. We had a crazy weekend with a family wedding, other events, and not enough sleep, so I have no doubt this is contributing to it, but I am trying to balance the therapy goals with parenting and it is HARD! On top of everything – J and I never know how much of Monkey’s behaviour is the fact that she has autism – or the fact that she is three – it is hard to figure out sometimes. Let’s face it – three year olds aren’t exactly sunshine and rainbows all the time!
While I know that friends and family mean well by offering suggestions based from their experiences – I know that often these will never work because they are giving advice from their own experience without the lens of autism. I do know that consistency is key when dealing with parenting on the spectrum – but I also know that it might not always work out perfectly – and that I need to be easier on myself. A couple of slip-ups are ok as long as MOST of the time, we are being consistent in our reactions to less desirable behaviour.
In terms of school stuff, we are meeting with her therapy centre to work out goals to have her best prepared for the start of Junior Kindergarten in the Fall. Every day I wonder about how she is going to do – how will she adjust to a new routine? How different will she be from the other kids? How behind is she developmentally and academically? Will she deal with bullying? There are so many unknowns. I just don’t know and it makes planning for the future that much more difficult. We don’t know if Monkey will be reliant on us for the rest of our lives, or if she will be able to lead an independent life of her own, but it is something that I worry about every single day. I try to live in the present as much as possible, but there are always little voices in my head wondering what the future will bring. We are doing our best to calm those voices, but some days are harder than others to do this.