One of the things I struggle with in working with Gavin is generalization. It’s pretty common in Autistic kids and definitely an issue with Gavin. Here’s an example of what I mean. If you were to take a “typical” child to a store like Walmart or Target and bought them a toy they would likely be excited. If you took Gavin to the store and bought him a toy he would also be excited. The difference is that Gavin would then expect a toy every time he went to the Walmart or Target. He generalizes going to the store and getting a toy. It only takes one time for this to happen and we have spent a considerable amount of time and energy working with this.
Generalization carries over into other aspects of his life as well. The one I’m dealing with tonight is stomach aches. Gavin sees a stomach ache as a sign he needs to vomit. He has been like that as long as I can remember. He came downstairs a little while ago and told me his stomach was upset. I asked him to describe it and he said “dizzy”. His “stomach feels dizzy”. What happens is that Gavin will make himself vomit if his stomach hurts because that’s what he thinks is supposed to happen.
I sat him down and as nicely as I could (already knowing where this was going) I told him that just because his stomach “hurts” doesn’t mean he has to vomit. I repeated that a few times and made him repeat it back to me as well. I do know if I will have problems tonight again but I really hope not. Even though we talked about not having to vomit I sent him back up with a puke bucket just because if I don’t he’ll just puke all over his floor again. I HATE cleaning up vomit off the carpet in the middle of the night.
There are many other areas in his life where he does similar things but this is the one I’m forced to deal with tonight. Autism affects many aspects of Gavin’s life, not just his social skills.
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