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What Makes You Happy or Sad?

Posted Feb 03 2009 1:23am


It has been meltdown city around here this weekend, with the high point being a several-minute search for Michael after he ran away from Bob in Target. (He completely refuses to accept the fact that he is supposed to stay with an adult at the store. We immediately left the store and began driving home, at which time he announced that he needed to go to a new family that would let him do what he wanted.)

Of course this was a couple of hours after him completely falling apart while we were out shopping for new seating for the living room, due to being told we were not buying the power lift recliner he had fallen in love with. Unfortunately, I had let him sit in it for a while as we looked at the furniture in that area of the store, and by the time I called him away, he had already named it and decided that they were good friends. He cried so hard that his face was all splotchy and his eyes were red.

After much conversation and attempts at redirection, he accepted the fact that we were purchasing the “cuddle chair,” i.e. reclining chair-and-a-half that both he and I can sit in together, and even went back to explain the situation to his friend (the other chair) so that he wouldn’t be sad.

Contrast these experiences to his social skills group last week, where they were talking about happy and sad feelings, and what makes them happy or sad. He was completely flummoxed by his classmate saying she feels sad when her little brother falls down and hurts himself; he couldn’t imagine how that would make her sad.

Despite everything I have read about autism and theory of mind and executive function, I just don’t know what to actually DO when dealing with a child for whom the thoughts inside his head are absolute truth and the advice and instruction from his parents or other adults has very little impact.

I want so much for him to be happy, and to not be so overwhelmed and sad by so many things in his life. But I also want need him to learn to obey us and not run away or whine/argue/threaten when he doesn’t get his own way. We had a couple of really great weeks at the beginning of the year and now things are just getting worse and worse.

So as happy as I am that he is talking and expressing emotion and able to have a conversation (and I truly am very happy about those things), I am sad about how difficult everything seems to be right now.

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