Frustrated. What Is Normal? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 07-21-2008, 04:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey everyone, my soon to be 3 year old son was diagnosed with very mild PDD-NOS and we were told his prognosis is very good. However, I'm at the stage where I'm just paranoid about everything he does or says. My wife, who has 2 daughters that live with us, is more calm because she has more experience with her daughters behaviours. I'm nit picking on everything my son does and trying hard to figure out what's "normal" behaviour, and what's PDD-NOS. Basically, I'm a wreck. I'm guessing that the behaviors in the spectrum are more intense. For example, during the assessment, we were asked if my son liked spinning objects. Don't all kids like spinning objects? I mean, almost every kid's toy has either flashing lights, spinning objects or both. But, I guess when a child pays too much attention to those things, is when there's a problem. How do you parents understand and deal with which behaviors are part of PDD-NOS and what is just normal kid behavior. Thanks, Ed.
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#2 of 9 Old 07-21-2008, 05:16 PM
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I think the key is to find a way to stop worrying about it. This question comes from the mindset that autism is somehow put on top of, or is somehow masking, your "normal" child. But this isn't the case. The truth is that your child thinks differently than you do, so everything he does is neither normal nor abnormal. It simply is.
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#3 of 9 Old 07-21-2008, 06:01 PM
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Every child is so different there really is no definition of normal IMO.

Do you have a local therapy center that has workshops or support groups? I think it would really help you to talk to other people IRL. It would also be helpful to see other kids with PDD and get an idea about how different each kid really is. Is you son going to start into an early education program in the fall? It might help to volunteer a bit.

I'm sorry you are having such a hard time. We've BTDT. Also here is a list of books on Amazon you can see if your local library has any of them.
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#4 of 9 Old 07-21-2008, 06:02 PM
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It sounds like you're going through a rough time getting used to the diagnosis.

It's easier said than done for some people, but the trick is to stop wondering what's PDD-NOS and what's being a kid. Kids on the spectrum do a lot of things more intensely than others, often differently than others, but they are still kids. The PDD is not hiding your child, it's like the PP said - your son is your son, and PDD is part of who he is. I'd worry more about what is dangerous or uncomfortable behavior than what is 'normal', if you can. Lack of danger awareness, meltdowns, frustration, all of those things can be worked on and changed. I think those sorts of things should be changed. Changing a behavior because it's 'autistic' is difficult and demeaning to the child. (Plus you often get another, more negative behavior. If you teach a kid to stop flapping, what do you do if they head bang at all the times when they used to flap? Better to work on sensory issues and decreasing harmful behaviors and helping them feel better about themselves and their environment)
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#5 of 9 Old 07-21-2008, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by chowmein View Post
How do you parents understand and deal with which behaviors are part of PDD-NOS and what is just normal kid behavior. Thanks, Ed.
Hey Ed. I understand the not knowing what is typical kid stuff and what is autism stuff. It's hard when autism is all you've ever known, and you don't know how to act/react to things because you're constantly trying to sort out if the tantrum being thrown is a normal kid I'm-not-getting-what-I-want tantrum or an autism sensory insult tantrum. When your autie is your first kid, it's hard.

What I did and still do is talk to moms with typically developing kids and flat out ask them, "did your NT kid do this?" Also, having a RL support group has been helpful, too. Have you checked out your local autism society chapter?
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#6 of 9 Old 07-21-2008, 06:31 PM
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You sound as if this is consuming you. That happened to me right before and after the diagnosis.

It took time but after a while I wasn't watching and wondering anymore. I think what helped was realizing my son does have autism. It can drive you nuts when you're trying to figure out if it really is there, if the person really was right, what the future is going to hold, etc. And I just wonder if you're doing that (I was for a while). Once I knew it was there I didn't feel a need to figure out if what he was doing was autism or not...because it didn't matter. It doesn't matter whether it is an autism sign or just him. It really doesn't. It'll come and go or come and stay either way, you know? It loses it's emotional charge with time too.

You can miss all the joy of your child by living where the constant focus is autism. You have to find a way to get back to just seeing him--at least most of the time. It's hard but the sooner you can do that the better.

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#7 of 9 Old 07-21-2008, 10:31 PM
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I couldn't agree more with what all these previous posters have said. I was in your same shoes when we first suspected ASD. Really, most kids are picky eaters, poor sleepers, shy, or overreact at certain times in their development. For a child on the spectrum, its just usually more intense and more often. And sometimes there are more challenges than with "typical" kids. But I promise as time goes by, you'll stop looking at your child and seeing the differences and just see your child
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#8 of 9 Old 07-22-2008, 01:29 AM
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I think it's pretty typical after your child has been diagnosed with something to see that 'something' everywhere in your child's life. When your child has been diagnosed with a disorder (no flames please, that's how the medical community presents it), it makes you wonder if you really knew your child and it makes you worried that this disorder is going to keep him from developing the independent, exciting life that we all envision for our kids. That uncertainty is really hard to deal with.

And the real answer that "normal" is a spectrum too. If we take your example of interest in spinning wheels - there's a range from kids who will give a spinning toy a mild glance, but aren't that interested (probably not typical either, by the way), to kids who are fascinated by them for short periods of time, but then get bored, to kids who are fascinated for long periods of time, to kids who will focus on a spinning toy to the exclusion of all other stimuli (indeed, maybe to exclude other stimuli that are too overwhelming). Fascination with spinning toys (even if it's to the exclusion of other things) is probably not enough to diagnose a child on the autism.

The real problem is figuring out what's 'typical'. While some individuals are easily identifiable as 'atypical' a lot of people aren't -- Bill Gates? Bill Clinton? Both qualify as atypical in very different ways. What about your colleague who shares a bit too much personal information? Your neighbor down the street who is a nice enough guy but who gets really upset if he finds a single weed in his lawn and always has to wash, vacuum and wax his car on Saturday morning?

And then there's figuring out what's typical for your son. Some of his current behaviors/issues might be related to the way his brain processes information; some might be adaptations he's figured out to keep his body from going into sensory overload, and they'll mostly go away if he learns to regulate sensory information better. And some of his quirks might just his own lovely personality quirks. Time will tell which is which.

Oh, and I wanted to add -- a really great way to get perspective is to see if you can find a support group/group of parents who have a child on the spectrum. You'll get a sense of what's typical for PPD-NOS and people who will understand and help you understand your son.

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#9 of 9 Old 07-22-2008, 05:58 AM
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who really decides what "normal" is, anyway?

i think that the point is that you love your child. it really doesn't matter if he does finger posturing when he's excited or if he stares into a lightbulb for 15 minutes, he's still your kid, and you love him, right? autism is a tough dx to get used to, but after awhile you don't see it in everything your child does. when my now-5yo ds was dx'd just over a year ago... no, wait... wow, almost 2 years ago, i would stress myself to tears thinking of all the things that he'd never be able to do, and wondering what was "normal" (all my boys are adhd or pdd-nos... or both!) and what was "autistic" behaviors. where is my 5yo? at the neighbors, having a sleepover with his best buddy, j!

it may take a little while, but you will get used to it and start seeing your child more clearly again, instead of the haze of his dx over it all.

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