Autism is complicated

I met with Gavin’s therapist tonight, Dr. Patti. We were going over Gavin’s behaviors and discussing the direction he is going in. The topic of the conversation was meltdowns and self injury. These two areas in Gavin’s life seems to be getting worse as of late. The thing that really bothers me is that I really believe these meltdowns are willful acts. Gavin has these meltdowns where he screams, stomps, kicks and hits himself. Many would say that this is part of the Autistic behaviors we would expect to see.The problems is that Gavin is starting to “slip up”. He is showing us in various ways that he has the ability to turns these meltdowns on and off at will.  I feel very confident that he has control over most of these meltdowns but maybe not all of them. The difficult part is trying to figure out which is which.

I have tested this theory in the past. Gavin will be in the middle of a huge meltdown and its been going on for almost an hour. He shows no signs of letting up so I say to him if he stops right now I will give him ice cream. He responds by immediately shutting it off as though nothing had happened. If he was truly out of control then he would be unable to do that. Now I didn’t end up giving him the ice cream and say what you want but I was proving a point during a power struggle of sorts. I needed him to know that I knew he was faking it. I knew he was in control the whole time. He was upset at me for that but if I had followed through he would have just manipulated the situation the next time. I don’t condone lying  to or misleading your kids but there comes a point where you have to mislead for the greater good. In our case he was terrifying his younger brothers and you could hear him 4 house down. I suspected he was in control but I needed him to know I was on to him. Simply telling him that wasn’t enough.

Back to my point. We know that Gavin has issues but the fact that these are willful acts (at least some  if not most of the time) takes it to a whole different level. No one wants to think a child is capable of things like this but  think Gavin falls into this category. I know Gavin has legit issues many of which are beyond his ability to control but I believe these meltdowns are not one of them.

We need to figure out how to deal with this. He needs held accountable for willful behavioral issues. How do we truly know for sure what is going on in his head ? How do we address the impact these are having on his younger brothers? Will we ever find answers to the enigma that is Gavin?

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