- Evan is up at the ass-crack of dawn (sorry, but it's the truth). He keeps asking to sleep in before he goes to bed, and I keep saying, "YES, please!!!".
- He takes himself into our TV room, shuts the door, and starts to play video games. Or, if he hears someone upstairs, he may or may not walk into the kitchen to complain that he's tired and then asks, again, to sleep in.
- At about 7, I start trying to figure out what he'll eat for breakfast. Twice this week it was a hotdog in a bun with ketchup (hey, if it's good enough for dinner, it's good enough for breakfast).
- At 7:20ish, he's yelling at me that he's thirsty and commands a drink. Sometimes he says, "chop, chop!"
*No, I am not making any of this up.
- At 7:50, I say to him, "Buddy, it's time to get dressed", to which he replies, "can I have more time?". 99.9% of the time, on a school day, I say yes.
- At 8:00, we dress him, push, carry, or pull him into the bathroom so he can pee, then catch him as he tries to escape having his teeth brushed (by me).
- He heads upstairs (his room is on the lower level of our house), and I brush his hair, put on his shoes, and head out the door.
This process is irritatingly inflexible. Sometimes, Jayme will try to help me out and go out of order, which stresses me out because if we miss a step we may not be able to add it back in. We also cannot rush him, as that totally stresses him out. Because I have to be prepared for something to go wrong, I am rigid with the timetable in order to give us a few extra minutes so we won't miss the bus.
For the past week or so, when I head into the TV room to get Evan dressed, I have found him in the same spot on the floor, which is out of sight of the door. Every time he says, "oh, you found me", and I say (with a chuckle), "you are in the same spot as always, silly".
This morning he said, "Agh! How do you keep finding me?" I started to laugh, but then stopped...
"Evan", I said, "do you think I don't know where you are because you can't see me?".
"Ya", he said, "that's how it works!!".
(Seems this is a common sentiment of mine lately)
So, there's this thing called Theory of Mind; I've mentioned it before in blogs, and essentially it's the ability to understand that people have their own thoughts, beliefs, and actions which can be different from your own. Theory of mind is often impaired or delayed in kids with autism for a number of reasons, including delayed speech acquisition and gaps in cognitive function. To teach theory of mind to kids who don't develop it autonomously, you literally have to model thought process (i.e. by talking out loud the thinking we usually do in our heads when we make observations and decisions in different situations). We worked a lot on this with an excellent therapist when Evan was in preschool.
I though Evan had a lot of it figured out. Sure, I know he has gaps in his theory of mind, which typically develops between the ages of 2-7, but I thought for sure he had figured out that just because he doesn't see someone doesn't mean that they don't know where he is. This particular skill should have definitely imprinted itself by now (it' hard to pin down the exact age when this should happen, but I saw some references to the 4-5 year age range in some literature).
I'm curious...if you think about this with your own children...do you any of you have 8-9 year olds that haven't figure this out yet?
Clearly, this gap will cause a disadvantage at hide and seek, but at what else, I wonder?
Hmmm....food for thought...