Posts Tagged "guest post"

Guest Post: Rippin

Posted by on Feb 3, 2012 | 1 comment

Guest Post: Rippin

Today’s post is by Jeff Stimpson, a fellow autism blogger who appreciates the humor on our journey. 

 

Rippin’

 
Our apartment is as quiet as it can ever be with two boys living here when from over where Alex sits I hear the soft sound of ripping. “Alex cut it out!”
 
He picks a few threads at the hem, pulling them off and letting them flutter through his fingers. Soon he turns the threads into thin strips that curl at their width into ropes of purple, orange, yellow, black. Gone then are shirts from Old Navy, past activities, camps. Some of these shirts he loved. It didn’t matter.
 
Alex (13 years old and PDD-NOS) has also been ripping T shirts of his typically-developing younger brother Ned, which has done wonders for filling up our bag of kitchen rags but Ned is still pissed. “Oh my God, Alex, stop that! He’s ripping every T shirt I have!” We’ve hidden Ned’s shirts from the Intrepid museum and his summer camp. Maybe that will help this wave of destruction fueled by autism.
 
“I have no idea why he’s doing this,” says Alex’s teacher, who does add that she thinks it might have something to do with the sensation Alex gets through his fingertips at the ripping cloth. It is kind of a cool feeling, but he winds up looking at worst like a castaway, at best like an Oklahoma Sooners linebacker.
 
Jill goes online to a local autism group. “Anyone familiar with this behavior?” she wrote. “Alex (almost 13) has begun ripping T shirts. He usually starts at the bottom. It used to be if a T shirt was a little old or had a hole or loose thread he’d start there, but now it’s been newer T shirts. Is this a sensory thing? Related to puberty?”
 
Replies one group member: “It’s an OCD/anxiety situation. He should be seen by a nuero-developmental pediatrician. My son’s similar behaviors were greatly reduced by Klonopin, an anti-anxiety treatment. Another approach that might work and has no failure cost is to go to a thrift store and buy a huge stack of T shirts for a few bucks. Tell him it’s okay to tear those shirts all he wants. At least it will stop confrontations and has a good shot at burning out this particular OCD. After he’s had it for a few days, interrupt him doing something else he likes and insist it is time to tear T-shirts.”
 
The thrift shop idea I jump on, paying a couple bucks apiece for a bright green NYC tourism shirt, a faded old blue job that says CAPE COD, and a tie-dyed T. Only the tie-dyed has so far begun its trip to the rag bag. Then his teacher sends me: “Today I sat down with Alex and we wrote a social story about not ripping his T shirts. It seemed to have somewhat of a positive effect to the behavior. Every time Alex tried to rip or play with his shirt, I would say, ‘Alex, hands down.’ If that did not work, we read his social story together and had him show me hands down at his side or on his lap. I made two copies of the social story, one for school and one for you to keep at home …”
 
If ripping holds to much of his behavior borne of autism, we’ll just get Alex’s hands down when he’ll be on to something else.

Jeff Stimpson is a native of Bangor, Maine, and lives in New York with his wife Jill and two sons. He is the author of Alex: The Fathering of a Preemie and Alex the Boy: Episodes From a Family’s Life With Autism (both available on Amazon). He maintains a blog about his family at jeffslife.tripod.com/alextheboy, and is a frequent contributor to various sites and publications on special-needs parenting, such as Autism-Asperger’s Digest, Autism Spectrum News, the Lostandtired blog, The Autism Society news blog, and An Anthology of Disability Literature (available on Amazon). He is on LinkedIn under “Jeff Stimpson” and Twitter under “Jeffslife.”

Share this: name;?> | name;?> | name;?> | name;?> | name;?> | name;?> Read More

Guest Post: Off The Top

Posted by on Feb 2, 2012 | 0 comments

Guest Post: Off The Top

Today’s post is by Jeff Stimpson, a fellow autism blogger who appreciates the humor on our journey. 

Off the Top

When my 13-year-old son Alex was a toddler, we took him to a toddlers’ place for haircuts: flat plastic cars to sit in, sweet female stylists, toys, Elmo on the VCR in front of him while he got a little off the top. They understood there for a long time, even as Alex’s legs grew too long for the plastic cars and a thin brown line appeared along his upper lip. “Alex, how are you!?” they’d want to know, their assistants who handled the aprons and the changing of the VCR tapes hovering nearby. I would hover with toys. “Alex, be good for a cut and you can have this.”
 
They were nice. They were pricey: $35 for a boy’s cut, plus the toys ($5 or so) plus tips for the stylists and their assistants. It hardly seemed fair that Alex (PDD-NOS) got the fun toddlers’ place for cuts and Ned, his typically-developing younger brother, didn’t, at least for a while, so the bill for the two boys sometimes near seventy bucks.
 
My wife Jill tried trimming Alex’s hair a few times, but though she likes to think of herself as a home barber she’s been clipper-shy ever since a decade ago when she buzzed me while watching, for some reason, The Shining (Her: Christ I forgot this part!! Me: Jill my ear!) Then we tried a lady who came to our house and claimed to have experience with cutting the hair of children with autism. She was good; Jill didn’t like the cut.
 
Off to barbers. It was easy with Ned, whose first haircut was in a wood-paneled joint where the barber had to put down his Racing Forum first. With Alex we had to try a joint of Italians, another of Russians (barber shops tend to run by ethnic groups in New York). Alex twisted at the buzz of the clippers, twisted at the snip of the scissors or the swish of the apron. The languages were different but the message universal: I can’t cut his hair if he won’t sit still.
 
The search was on. There are maybe a half dozen shops within a 20-minute walk, and one of these is Mr. Lucky’s European Styles. A slit of a place, padded chairs, photos of models with the cuts you can request, stylists’ cards in front of their mirrors. I noticed the teenager who had to be lifted into the barber’s chair from a wheelchair. The barber didn’t pause a second before going to work on the young man, whose head lolled as he dropped a basketball; it bounced to me and I passed it back to his father, who looked tired, and I got the feeling I’d found something.
 
“What’s his name?” the barber asked me at Alex’s turn to climb into the chair. “What’s his name? Okay Alex, sit still. Sit still. We’ll be done in second.”
 
He snapped the apron over Alex and cut around the ears and up the back. Scoop with the fingers and clip clip across the top. The dark inches tumbled down Alex’s apron and I thought, This barber knows someone with this.
 
“Alex, look in the mirror. Straight into the mirror, Alex.” And Alex does. I hover and dart around the chair, trying to not get in the barber’s way. Ned tells me to show Alex his toys and tell him to sit still, but I think maybe the toys aren’t needed. “Alex, sit still. Sit still.” He does. In what seems like a moment, they whip the apron off and ask me to pay about what I pay to have my own hair cut.



Jeff Stimpson is a native of Bangor, Maine, and lives in New York with his wife Jill and two sons. He is the author of Alex: The Fathering of a Preemie and Alex the Boy: Episodes From a Family’s Life With Autism (both available on Amazon). He maintains a blog about his family at jeffslife.tripod.com/alextheboy, and is a frequent contributor to various sites and publications on special-needs parenting, such as Autism-Asperger’s Digest, Autism Spectrum News, the Lostandtired blog, The Autism Society news blog, and An Anthology of Disability Literature (available on Amazon). He is on LinkedIn under “Jeff Stimpson” and Twitter under “Jeffslife.”

Share this: name;?> | name;?> | name;?> | name;?> | name;?> | name;?> Read More