Child-led weaning and cognitive delays/weaning an autistic child? - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
Old 06-06-2008, 03:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
JBug's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 191
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Hi, all

My little guy is three - four in August - and I'm feeling like I'm getting kind of burnt out on nursing. I've been nursing one of my children - and for almost 2 years, both of them - for 5 1/2 years.

So I'm wondering if anyone here (and if there is, they'd be here!) whose nursed a child with cognitive delays and either gently weaned or done child-led weaning. If so, I'd really like to hear your experiences, if you'd share them with me.

The thing is, I'm a believer in child-led weaning. But I have an enormous load on my plate right now, and I'm feeling very burnt out. I gradually decreased nursings with my son over the last year (so I guess, already, child-led weaning in the strictest sense is already out for us), so I mostly only nurse him at bedtime, to sleep, and for comfort when he's sick or hurt. I have to be completely honest and say that I'm starting literally cringe some nights at bedtime. But I can't get him to sleep without it, and particularly with an autistic child, breaking a routine is a huge upset for them. Plus, I don't want to overshadow a mostly wonderful nursing relationship with a traumatic weaning.

If he were a neurotypical child, it would be different in two ways: One, I could talk to him about it and two, I would know that, more likely than not, he would wean himself sooner or later, naturally. But since he isn't - and particularly with his cognitive delays, I'm afraid that child-led weaning isn't going to happen. Like I said earlier, I don't believe that his overall cognitive age is as low as 9 months, but let's just say that, for the sake of argument, he's .... around 2, cognitively. Not many two year olds are going to outgrow nursing, kwim? I could, conceivably, have another 2 or more years to go, putting him at a physical age of 6. I'm deeply dedicated to nursing my babies for a good long period, but I don't think I'm in physical or mental shape to keep it up that long.

But anyway, long question even more long: Has anyone ever done anything even remotely like child-led weaning with a SN child with cognitive delays? Or, for that matter, weaned an autistic child without sending both of you out of your minds?

I would greatly appreciate your stories and suggestions, if anyone has.


x-posted to a couple of different places in hopes of finding anyone in a similar situation. I apologise if you had to read it twice (and if the post reads a little weird because I'm a semi-regular here and I had to give background for the other places. I edited it but I don't doubt it looks a tad odd).
JBug is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 06-06-2008, 11:19 AM
 
fanniefarkle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Crackerbox Palace
Posts: 1,331
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
My child has not yet been for his dx appt, but he *appears* to be somewhere on the spectrum. DS is 3.5 now, and he weaned himself last year at 2.5. He had given up all day time feedings a good deal earlier, but still wanted to nurse a little at bedtime. I noticed that he began to nurse only for a few seconds and then just wanted to play with the nipple. This playing went on for a looooong time. I started to wear band-aids over my nipples while in bed. After months of this behavior, he finally switched over to playing with my ear to go to sleep, which is what he still does today. We co-sleep, btw.
fanniefarkle is offline  
Old 06-06-2008, 01:38 PM
 
williamsmommy2002's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: the microwaves did it
Posts: 1,933
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
My ds is not cognitively delayed but he does have autism. Emotionaly he is probably closer to a 4 year old than a 5.5 year old. He is also still nursing. At three I thought he would never stop. Now he barely nurses and has nursed very little for over a year now. His almost 4 year old brother still nurses a lot though.

Misty, mama to my nurslings William(11/4/02) and Parker(7/13/04).
williamsmommy2002 is offline  
Old 06-06-2008, 03:16 PM
 
feebeeglee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 2,689
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Bede nursed til... i can't remember. It was such a gradual less and less thing that it sort of ended without fanfare. I think he was 4 the last time he nursed.

I've had the best luck with curtailing the time spent at each nursing session when I've wanted to cut back on nursing. I take a month or so to go from child-initiated and child-terminated nursings to child-initiated and mother-terminated nursings. Eventually my kids, the autie included, have no trouble with nursing basically whenever they want but only for as long as I want. I end up counting to ten and then saying "OK, all done now!"

None of them have stepped up the nursing in response, they just keep nursing at the same times but for not very long. Then they pretty rapidly sort of forget to ask to nurse. It's been very untraumatic.

I've always occasionally stopped a nursing now and then though, even when they were babies. I have to pop Gloria off once or twice a a day to chase one of the other five, for instance. She knows that I'll always latch her back on so there's no sense of panic, I think, and so a sudden end of a nursing session, after she's eaten enough to not be hungry or frantic doesn't bug her. It was like that with my others too.
feebeeglee is offline  
Old 06-06-2008, 07:42 PM
 
RedOakMomma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: A little stone house
Posts: 6,795
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
My twins were cognitively delayed and autistic, and I gently led them toward weaning when they were 2.5 years old. It was suprisingly easy, actually...way easier than I had feared.

Over about six weeks I reduced the number of nursing sessions, and the length of those sessions. Toward the end I only nursed before nap and bedtime. We used a series of structured steps at bedtimes, so over time we replaced the nursing part of the sequence (snack, pajamas, cuddle/sing, nurse, bedtime) with a sippy of milk. They didn't protest at all, and never seemed to want to nurse once I stopped. There were a few teary moments where their instinct was to nurse, but holding and cuddling worked just as well and the wanting to nurse passed over easily.

I think I took about one week between each elmination of a nursing session, then spent two weeks at the end with just the before-bedtime session. One night was the last night...and they didn't seem to mind at all!

Good luck! It really can be a smooth process.

RedOak ~ Momma to DS (8) , DS (4) , DD (3) , & DD 9/10 ~
RedOakMomma is offline  
Old 06-06-2008, 07:46 PM
 
AuntLavender's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 1,378
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Basically I never offered and he stopped wanting to nurse during the day after he turned 4 1/2. He sleeps in our bed part of the night. He likes to nurse in bed. I think my supply must have dwindled to the point he doesn't get anything and he doesn't need to comfort nurse anymore.

My firstborn I nursed for 6 mos. My second I nursed for 19 mos and she weaned. My third nursed for 2 1/2 years and she weaned. I too felt my fourth would never wean. Who nurses an almost 5 yo?

My son is delayed to about 2 1/2 years so even though he's 5 it's like he's mentally 2 1/2 and he's ready to wean.

Best wishes,
Debra, homeschooling mom of 4
AuntLavender is offline  
Old 06-07-2008, 12:32 AM
 
thorn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Alpharetta, GA
Posts: 2,375
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I weaned my 3.5 yo spectrum daughter in march, it wasn't child led but it didn't kill either of us and actually went way better than I had thought.

I had tried reducing frequency and duration without success, so I planned a trip out of town a month ahead and started telling her every day that mommy was going on a trip in a few weeks, when I came back we weren't going to nurse any more, nursing is for younger babies (I have an infant daughter so I wanted to make it clear that her sister would still be nursing)

I went away for three days with the baby, came back, she asked to nurse a few times and I just said we're not doing that anymore but you can have lots of hugs or tickles or kisses... lots of physical contact and distraction. and she only tried a few more times.

Christine, mom to C(7.5) - E(5) - J(3) - B(10 mos)

Doula, childbirth educator, Co-leader of ICAN of Atlanta

 

"Never miss an opportunity to make others happy, even if you have to leave them alone in order to do it." ~Anonymous

thorn is offline  
Old 06-07-2008, 12:38 AM
 
JohannasGarden's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 468
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I eventually weaned my son with Asperger's when he was a bit over 6. It was very hard for him. The biggest reason we weaned was that it had really been bothering his dad since he was 4 or 5. By that time we'd talked and talked about it for years and it felt less and less right for me to continue. I certainly had mixed feelings about it and still do to some extent. The other reason was that I got really cranky around nursing (and I'd been tandem nursing since he was 2 yrs. 7 mos and his sister was born)--I'd spend a lot of time scolding him for doing one of 20 things wrong, lol, too hard, touching my hair an annoying way, moving his hand too much, etc. etc. Much as I wanted to not wean before he was ready in the sense of it either being his idea or at least his agreeing to it when we talked about it, it didn't work out that way. I couldn't stop being cranky about it (and expressing that crankiness) and couldn't make my husband feel good about it, so I also had to realize that I wasn't having the kind of nursing relationship I wanted to have with him just by virtue of the fact that I was continuing to nurse him.

I tend to think that all or nearly all kids will choose to wean eventually, but if your son is 3 1/2 it could be right around the corner or years away.

My main advice is to try and take time to process the possibilities so that you are really comfortable with whatever you decide. I think that because I weaned with some guilt, I wasn't always as at ease with his anger about it than I might of been if I hadn't had that defensiveness.

Sherri
JohannasGarden is offline  
Old 06-07-2008, 01:49 AM
 
Sleepymama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: elsewhere
Posts: 1,431
Mentioned: 50 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 25 Post(s)
My autism-spectrum kid weaned when his sister was born (at 3yrs 2 mo.) Honestly I thought he was going to nurse until high school--and I know lots of moms say that but I really actually mean it! Anyway, he nursed through the whole pregnancy (I hadn't had milk for a long time before I even got pregnant, so he wasn't used to milk) and when my DD was born he took one look at the colostrum and got grossed out (Sensory integration disorder). He got this horrified look on his face, like I was trying to get him to eat one of the 1000 foods he won't get anywhere near. I offered one other time and he backed away and said no. I had started to do some weaning when I was pregnant as I had hyperemesis and a tough pregnancy, so I started with night weaning (DH did all the work and still sleeps with DS) and was doing a lot of distraction. Distraction, especially with a cognitive delayed kid (distraction works less and less as they get older). It IS possible to wean a 2 year old semi-peacefully if you do it slowly and distract, distract, distract. Is being outside as much as possible possible right now? I find my typical 2 yo DD who nurses all the time at home cares much less if we're out doing stuff. (I realize doing things is hard with ASD, so I'd say just keep him busy!)

I am feeling for you on the nursing burnout. I've been nursing just about 5 1/2 years too, and having an ASD/delayed child adds so much stress. I'm really touched out. (DD is challenging too, not ASD though)

Sleepy mom of two (DS-11, DD-8). 5 lost: 9/2004, 3/2005, 3/2013, 8/2014, ectopic loss @ 6 weeks 11/2014
Sleepymama is offline  
Old 06-07-2008, 11:07 AM
 
friendly fire's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 124
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
friendly fire is offline  
Old 06-07-2008, 11:56 AM
 
Sleepymama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: elsewhere
Posts: 1,431
Mentioned: 50 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 25 Post(s)
I thought of something else you could try, if you decide to do gentle weaning.

Autistic kids often really respond to visual "stories", and if there is a routine that you would like to change, say nursing at bedtime, make a "book" about the new routine. Take pictures of the whole routine you do now, minus the nursing (or with a substitute for the nursing) and put the pictures in order in one of those cheapy photo albums. Then every night before your normal routine "read" the book--go over the pictures. My 2yo DD has a bedtime book like this and we did one with DS at a young age too. After doing that for a couple of weeks (while still doing the same normal routine) you can try doing it the new way. It's still going to be hard, but this kind of social story can really help (with all kinds of things as they get older). We are trying to change DS's bedtime routine right now (he hasn't nursed for years) and it's STILL impossible. They take so long to transition. This kind of story might help though. You can include dad in the story too, if you want to give DH some role in bedtime.

And I really would not take any advice or judgment from people who don't know what it's like. We judge ourselves enough. Nursing a 3 1/2 year old on top of special needs is really hard. I know gentle mother led weaning isn't popular here on MDC, but living with special needs is a whole other kettle. It puts demands on you as a mom that are incredible. And I think it's even harder for us to put ourselves first sometimes than it is normally because our kids need us so much.

Sleepy mom of two (DS-11, DD-8). 5 lost: 9/2004, 3/2005, 3/2013, 8/2014, ectopic loss @ 6 weeks 11/2014
Sleepymama is offline  
Old 06-07-2008, 02:32 PM
 
wonderwahine's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: wi fi didnt do it!
Posts: 9,295
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
we gently weaned ds. He was on a milk substitue anyway because of FTT, but he ws still nursing and it was becoming to stressful on me, first we slowly cut out his day nursing with distraction and redirection, and i found other ways to comfort him to sleep for his nap. Then the last to go was his night comfort nursing. once he day weaned, he started sleeping through the night, so that just left the nursing to sleep session, and I was starting to feel resentment and was touchedout by the end of the day,so one night I just wore something that covered my breasts to bed, and told him numnums were all gone, no more milk left, and he whined a tiny bit, snuggled into me and listened to my heartbeat for a minute, then moved onto his pillow and hugged my hand to his chest for pressure and fell asleep.
wonderwahine is offline  
Old 06-07-2008, 03:41 PM
 
hippymomma69's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: on the rocky shoals of life
Posts: 1,345
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
FWIW, my DD isn't autistic but has many of the same traits that make weaning an autistic child difficult (APD - so low verbal, spd - so sensory seeker)....I didn't know what she had at the time (26 months) that I weaned her I just knew that I was pregnant and it felt like DAGGERS to nurse her...anyway, I did mamma-led weaning. The hardest part for us was night weaning. We coslept so it helped, I think. I weaned her directly to a bottle (substituted bottle for mamma milk) so she could still have the sucking comfort that she clearly needed.

She is JUST NOW starting to give up her bottle (she's 4.5) so I KNOW she would have nursed until now at the very least if I'd left it up to her. The nursing/bottle helps her calm and integrate her sensory stuff, I think. But I have to say I'm grateful she's using the bottle now rather than my boob (bag on head).

What I did was what one of the PP mentioned - shorten each nursing. Then we moved to distraction/substitution during the daytime/out of the house. Then we did the night weaning which was hardest. I offered her a bottle of water or milk when she awoke...after a few times of doing that, she decided she was too tired to wake up anymore to ask - that took about 1 week. Then we got rid of the early morning feed by getting up as soon as she asked to nurse in the morning and fixing breakfast (ack we were awake at 5am! but it worked).....then the nighttime was last to go. I just really emphasized the nighttime routine and sometimes she would fall asleep before getting to the nursing - bath, reading, lots of rocking and singing. Or I would do a super short night nurse and then let her toss, turn, do cartwheels or whatever on the bed until she settled down to sleep.

She must have been ready in some sense because there was very little crying beyond a fuss or two for less than 30 seconds when I refused. But we went really slow also so she adjusted okay. And the bottle helped...

hth
peace,
robyn
hippymomma69 is offline  
Old 06-08-2008, 01:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
JBug's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 191
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions.

friendly fire, why are you tip-toeing away?
JBug is offline  
Old 06-08-2008, 01:18 AM
 
bdavis337's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Sleep Deprivation, USA
Posts: 5,976
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
mother led weaning isn't always popular - I think the poster in question has much to say in argument against your decision to start weaning your child.

although, most other mammals do forcefully wean their offspring rather than waiting for them to stop on their own.
bdavis337 is offline  
Old 06-08-2008, 01:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
JBug's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 191
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdavis337 View Post
mother led weaning isn't always popular - I think the poster in question has much to say in argument against your decision to start weaning your child.

although, most other mammals do forcefully wean their offspring rather than waiting for them to stop on their own.
Thanks for the heads up.



Well, if that's the case, friendly fire, just keep walking. Not interested.
JBug is offline  
Old 06-08-2008, 10:17 PM
 
Jennifer Z's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Kansas
Posts: 3,755
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by feebeeglee View Post
Bede nursed til... i can't remember. It was such a gradual less and less thing that it sort of ended without fanfare. I think he was 4 the last time he nursed.

I've had the best luck with curtailing the time spent at each nursing session when I've wanted to cut back on nursing. I take a month or so to go from child-initiated and child-terminated nursings to child-initiated and mother-terminated nursings. Eventually my kids, the autie included, have no trouble with nursing basically whenever they want but only for as long as I want. I end up counting to ten and then saying "OK, all done now!"

None of them have stepped up the nursing in response, they just keep nursing at the same times but for not very long. Then they pretty rapidly sort of forget to ask to nurse. It's been very untraumatic.
About the same thing here, except mine went to 5. I think he would have stopped at 4yo, but after his sister was born a few days before his 4th birthday, he started back up again as he tried to adjust and I think he needed the reassurance. It followed about the same process as Fee described at our house too. I think the second to last time he nursed was the morning of Mother's Day (hadn't nursed in a while, so it was notable given the day) and the last time he nursed was Father's Day. It was sort of weird it fell on those two days, and I would have never remembered otherwise.

I think the counting thing is what really helped my ds too. It is funny that Fee did that, because I don't remember ever discussing it with her, but our our boys are really similar. We also had my dh start doing bedtime routines with ds when I was pregnant (so, just before he turned 4) and that helped with him learning how to get to sleep without nursing (something I thought would never happen). I think the complete change of person helped him cope better with the change of routine. Eventually, I could put him to bed also, without nursing.

You might get some teething type toys, or things like the Ark Grabber XT or Chewy Tubes to help with oral cravings. I know mine would shred the heck out of shirts and I think he nursed longer than he might have otherwise if he didn't have such a strong need for oral input. Once he found another avenue for the input, it helped him deal with weaning.

Mom to 10yo Autistic Wonder Boy and 6yo Inquisitive Fireball Girl . December birthdays.

Jennifer Z is offline  
Old 06-08-2008, 10:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
JBug's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 191
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
That's funny, I did the counting thing with my oldest when I was pregnant with my son and had a hard time nursing her for long stretches at a time.
JBug is offline  
Old 06-09-2008, 05:42 PM
 
jillmamma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: TX
Posts: 3,221
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
We ended up kind of coming to a mutual consensus with weaning for DS. I nursed him for 4.75 years including tandem nursing for over 2 years, and towards the end he was down to just a few minutes before bedtime. It was starting to get me run down as well by then as DD was a toddler who was squirming on the other side while he nursed on one side. So we just gradually decreased how long till I started offering to just lay down with him instead right after I nursed his sister. So now that is how we still do night times (I nurse her in her bed, then go over and lay down with him for a few minutes...they share a room too, so that helps). He is 5.5 now, and still asks sometimes, but I remind him that he is so big now and does not need to anymore like his little sister (who is 2.5).

Jill stillheart.gif Chris (7/96), mommy to 3 sweet redheads: jumpers.gif Matthew autismribbon.gif (12/02), Michelle (8/05) and Marissa (1/10). Nursing since 2002.
jillmamma is offline  
Old 06-09-2008, 07:45 PM
 
feebeeglee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 2,689
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by friendly fire View Post
You know, why even come here and post this? She doesn't need your judgement. This child will be 4 in August. FOUR. Kathy Dettwyler, an anthropologist who has studied natural weaning extensively, has said that a natural age for weaning in humans should be anywhere from a minimum of 2.5 to a maximum of 7, averaging out to between 3.5 and 4.5. See http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detwean.html for more on that.

So back off with the disapproving drive-by posting. This mama has knocked herself out for years for her two auties. Who the hell are you to come in and imply that her five and a half years of nursing her wonderful wild children isn't good enough?

(and if I've taken you wrong, I apologize.)
feebeeglee is offline  
 
User Tag List

Thread Tools


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off