Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Be Still

Just a quick aside: evidently, all is going well on campus. I just got a call from the newly-minted college freshman. He's not homesick; his first class went okay (and by the way, Mom, the book cost $130, so can you replenish my bank account please?); and he's been playing Frisbee -- I didn't even know he played Frisbee, but apparently he's pretty good! It sounds as though he has made a connection with his roommate, so I've got to believe that all the coaching he's had in and out of the classroom will pay off!

That's very good news to me, given that the "extraordinarily effective I.E.P." that I mentioned yesterday is no longer guiding his education. There's no Special Ed professional to keep him on track or facilitate peer interaction. There's no one to remind him to "quiet his body" as his speech therapists used to do.

Throughout my son's youth and adolescence, he displayed repetitive behaviors, a common trait of children with social communication or autism spectrum disorders. He would stop one, only to replace it with another; but each unconscious behavior would last several months or even years. In grammar school, there was a time when my son was constantly licking his lips, to the point where the skin was red and chapped under his bottom lip. This particular tic was one that was odd enough to call unwanted attention. So often we (family, teachers, therapists) would try and redirect his need to move or fiddle or rock, and channel it into something less obtrusive -- playing with a macrame or leather wrist band, for example.

In high school, he constantly fingered a religious medal he wears around his neck; or he would pull on his sock, rolling it up and down his ankle. The sock pulling continues today and we invested in a new leather bracelet before he left for school. As repetitive behaviors go, pulling on his sock is relatively harmless and less likely than some of his past quirks to attract unwelcome attention. Still, it would be better if he could find a more subtle means of grounding himself. He agrees, but it's easier said than done. Once ingrained, these habits are hard to break.

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