"Autism Behavior Baffles"

Autism behavior may extend into a restricted set of interests, behaviors, and activities. Some of this autism behavior seems to alarm people. Yet, I've observed habits such as this in other children and adults who just like things a certain way.

The hand flapping and the body rocking belong to the classic set of autism symptoms, so there's no argument there.

• Insisting on following routines and sameness, resisting change.
• Ritualistic or compulsive behaviors.
• Sustained odd play.
• Repetitive body movements (hand flapping, rocking) and/or abnormal posture (toe walking).
• Preoccupation with parts of objects or a fascination with repetitive movement (spinning wheels, turning on and off lights).
• Narrow, restricted interests (dates/calendars, numbers, weather, movie credits).

"Insisting On Following Routines"

What's wrong with following routine? In and of itself, routine isn't a bad thing. It lends predictability to a day.

It gives a person, especially young children, security in knowing what to expect. Security is important to kids and routine should be a big part of their lives.

On the other hand, life isn't always going to accommodate schedules. In fact, there will always be an element of chaos thrown into your lives. It's inescapable.

Inject flexibility and spontaneity into their lives too. Like, going for a walk in the rain, with rain coat, rubber boots, umbrellas.

Go outside and count earthworms. You'll be observing nature and giving kids a real life reason for doing some math - counting.

Who can spot the most earthworms? You'll be training their observational skills.

A bit of creativity just to spend some real time with the kids. It's the little things that really count in a child's life. It's the magic hidden in everyday activities.

"She Didn't Get The Job"

A female engineer interviewed for an overseas job. it would've taken her and her husband to Indonesia. The interview got to a certain point about how she would adjust to the obvious changes that would take place in her life. But the question wasn't worded directly that way.

Instead she described how she liked precisely a cup of milk in her cereal every day. That was her breakfast. Every day. At precisely a certain time in the morning. Every day.

Now, it didn't seem like such a big thing. But this, among other answers, indicated to the interviewer, that she might not adjust well to life in Southeast Asia.

"Normal" people also like their daily, weekly, monthly, and annual rituals. It doesn't mean that this is necessarily an autism behavior.

"Certain Traits Stood Out"

My son, Nolan, could've been very inflexible. Even as a newborn, a tiny 4 lb 15 oz preemie, he was so laid back. It was really great. He was a very easy baby.

But I sensed that being so laid back might mean he'd be set in his ways. I wasn't thinking about autism behavior. It never occurred to me that anything was wrong.

But it goes back to my own vision of my kids. I wanted him to think spontaneous and fun. So I'd put him on this nice plastic backed diaper change mat and drag him along the floor every now and then. It shook him out of himself.

I also spent a lot of time talking to him. But no baby talk. Simple language only. I spiced up his life for him. He was a sweety. Sometimes he would protest.

"That's Life, Kiddo!"

When Nolan was about 4 years old, we introduced him to gymnastics. He loved the coach he had and looked forward to the next session with the same guy. But that young coach didn't coach him a second time. Nolan was set on this coach.

He didn't want to continue when he found out he wasn't getting the same coach. But I explained to him that we had paid our money and that he would just have to adjust. I was mindful of the lesson he was learning. He had to finish what he started. He got over the disappointment.

As Nolan grew, we directed him with the truly important decisions. Those included the high school and the university he would attend.

Because Nolan was actually suited for university, we told him he had to leave home. We explained why. It meant he would have to change drastically - his routine, friends, city, everything. These changes forced him to grow up and expand his experience.

He blossomed. Though the changes we forced on him were initially tough, I knew that he had to go through them to become the capable person he is today. And as he underwent changes, he always knew that Mom and Dad were right there supporting him, but not doing the work for him.

You can teach kids to be flexible. You just need awareness to prevent autistic behavior.

"What's Easier?"

Kids need your help to make adjustments. They require explanations when and why things change. Life will always take unpredictable turns. It always will because very little is really under your control.

If autism behavior is about rigidity and inflexibility, then you can teach your kids to be the opposite. You always have a choice. You also must be flexible in your own life. You either go with the flow and just surrender to the changes or you struggle and resist.

Which one is easier? Let things go and see what happens. Everything always works out. You can eliminate autism behavior.

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