The Lesser Evil

Posted by on Apr 21, 2010 | 1 comment

I find myself often wondering which is worse, dealing with the autistic 4-year-old child (Jack), or the neurotypical 3-year-old (Lennon).  They both have their challenges, they both have their quirks.  But which is the lesser of the two evils?  And by “evil,” I mean “my darling children whithout whom I would have no purpose.”

I decided to chart it out.  In each circumstance, which is the better outcome?

1) While out and about, Jack will occasionally take off running without regard to his whereabouts.   Lennon, if given the chance, will almost always run away, knowing exactly what he’s doing.  He also turns back frequently to make sure you’re just about to reach him before he darts off again. He will also hide and laugh hysterically.  DECISION – Jack.

2) If he gets hurt in some way, Jack will usually laugh it off (unless it’s a bad owie, then he’ll cry and come for comfort).  Lennon gets hurt 12 to 17 times a day, usually because he’s launched himself off of something or run smack into the wall (which just happened about 10 minutes ago).  The bigger the owie, the less he seems fazed by it.  However, if he gets smacked across the face by the baby, harassed by Jack (which, to be fair, usually involves some sort of physical pain), or insulted in some way that hurts his feelings, he needs lots of hugs and snuggles.  And then he’ll remind you of it constantly for the next week or three.  DECISION – Jack

3) When Jack decides to have a tantrum, which is pretty rare nowadays, it’s on an epic proportion.  There is a lot of screaming, defiance and sometimes hitting.  Time-outs work, but he needs to be monitored to make sure he doesn’t decide to leave the time-out area.  If he’s overly tired, the only thing to stop his tirade is to ignore it or put him to bed.  When Lennon has a fit, which is pretty much every day, it’s also an epic production.  As much as Lennon dreads a time-out, he’ll go and stay there until his time is up.  He gets wildly upset, but calms down to his genial self pretty quickly.  DECISION – Lennon

4) Jack can focus on one task for hours at a time, especially if it’s of his choosing.  Lennon has the attention span of a gnat, unless he’s watching “Cars.”  DECISION – draw

5) Jack has become quite a picky eater.  He doesn’t have any sort of texture aversions anymore, but he also just doesn’t eat a whole lot, unless it’s chocolate or an apple.  And if it can be cut with a knife, he’ll spend most of his meal dicing his food into tiny pieces before finally consuming it.  Lennon is not so picky.  Lennon, in fact, will eat mass quanities of whatever you put in front of him, as long as it is not grilled cheese.  Or apples with the skin on.  DECISION – Jack (he eats less, therefore saving me money at the grocery store)

This list could go on for days.  In fact, I may revisit it as the need for comparing and contrasting my children against each other arises.  It could get dicey as Kieran gets old enough to get into the equation.

In the meantime, I’m going to go out on a limb and say my child with autism is easier to handle on a daily basis than my neurotypical 3-year-old.  I know what to expect with Jack, and his playbook is pretty simple.  Lennon is a wild card.   Sometimes I just don’t have the energy for that. 

Good thing they’re both cute.

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