By Peter Szatmari MD
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Additional info for A Mind Apart: Understanding Children with Autism and Asperger Syndrome
If a mother knew that a child has to wear blue socks to feel secure in going off to school in the morning, would she tell him to stop making a big deal out of such a little thing and send him on his way, as one might with a typical child? These are Justin 33 examples of the way in which understanding the meaning or function of a behavior modifies our approach to dealing with it. A parent’s job is made more difficult, unfortunately, by the fact that it’s not always easy to trace behavior back to the compulsion to resist change.
But there’s no sign of the child who left the apartment this morning and boarded the school bus in her green coat and her cap pulled down firmly over her ears so that she could barely see, all snug against the chill November wind. The mother becomes anxious and wonders if her daughter was kept inside the school. Was she upset or hurt? Had something gone terribly wrong? It is still so difficult to send Heather off to school and to tolerate this anxiety about an entire day spent beyond her mother’s watchful and protective eye.
They rarely make up stories or use toys to enact those stories. Typical children will put little people in and take them out of a toy bus as it travels from stop to stop, or they may play out an extended sequence of grooming, bathing, and feeding a favorite doll. Without the ability to play imaginatively, the child with autism or AS pursues a set of circumscribed interests that seems to replace imaginative play and becomes a preoccupation. The child engages in these activities frequently, in exactly the same manner.