Thursday, July 26, 2007

I Wish My Ex Would Accept My Son's Play Needs

On many occasions I will attempt to talk about my oldest son's autism with my ex. I usually bring up the subject when my ex is not interacting appropriately with my son. One example was my husband's attempt to fly my son around as Superman and lightly bang my son's head into a wall. My son liked his head hitting the wall so much that he walked around after the flying and banged his own head into the walls around my home. It may not seem like a big deal, but he was banging his head repeatedly and doing so pretty hard because he liked the sensation. He was stimulating himself with his head-banging.

I told my ex to change his Superman game with my son so that this game would not encourage head-banging. Well, my ex stopped the game all-together instead of listening to my suggestion about a change because I was "telling him what to do." Unfortunately, I often end up the bad guy with my ex because he sees me as policing his fun. He thinks that my son should be allowed to play like a typical child and not be so constrained or structured in how he plays. This attitude constantly causes me grief.

My autistic son does not understand gray areas like other children. If a game involves something potentially unsafe or a pretend skill such as gently tapping his head or hand on something, he goes right into an unsafe mode of operation. For him, the danger is funny; he actually laughs and will repeat an unsafe activity until redirected. It's difficult to explain to others including my ex that he needs structured and directed play because he looks like (and to some extent talks) like a typical child.

I have not yet found a way to convince my ex that there are many ways to facilitate safe and fun play with my autistic son. The best solution so far has been to go to a park or a restaurant--a place where there is distraction for my ex. I am hoping that as my son gets older, the need for a high degree of facilitated play will decrease. This is probably the only way that my ex will be more accepting of my son.

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