• Understanding Autism from the Inside

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The situation with the Tot is deteriorating…

running-boy-cartoon-clipartWhile the Tot has developed many communication skills since beginning school (self-contained 3K autism class), he has become more “clingy” and in need of 100% hands-on attention. Basically it takes all of my time, energy, and resources to keep him calm, and prevent major meltdowns, and even then the meltdowns are still frequent.  It appears as if I am his “security” or “transitional item.” He wants me to be within touching distance ever moment he is home, often extending his arms and fingers out toward me saying, “Mommy, I can’t reach you, “ or “Mommy, I need you.”


On the surface this seems very cute, and indeed it is, except when for when I cannot respond IMMEDIATELY and hold onto him, sit with him, and obey his every command. Even a short “one second, Tommy” can cause a explosion. I am dreading summer vacation because I know that I will be able to do NOTHING except sit beside the Tot.  The problem here is that I have three other boys—as you know—and two of them are on the spectrum as well.  They need my attention too!  Then let’s not forget the 8-month-old, despite what the Tot believes, needs to be fed, held when he cries, and have his pampers changed.

We are approaching the last few weeks of school with my anxiety level rising.  The Tot will be receiving extended school year services, but that only consists of two or three, four-day weeks.  I love my Tot, but he is a handful and I am short a few dozen hands!

To make matters worse, and I know this is not the first time I’ve mentioned this, he is a bolting escape artist.  It is very difficult to keep him in the house without constant vigilance, and when he wants OUT I must literally use my body to barricade the door.  Multiple locking mechanisms have failed, or been yanked clear off the walls and door frames.  Plus with the other boys going in and out of the house, the door opens, which many times causes the Tot to bolt! He takes off in public too…but I hoped home would be a little less difficult.

This is what happened yesterday…

What happened yesterday is a perfect example of what I am dealing with at the moment.  My mother was visiting (and making me a birthday cake—gasp!) but was sitting on the back porch.  Baby was crying so I had him in my arms bouncing and pacing in the living room.  The Little Man (10) left to go play outside with his friends, and the Tot saw him go.  He ran to the door, pushed passed the other children and took off running, and screaming.  Now what do I do?  Drop the baby and run??

I screamed for my mother waving furiously through the window at for her to take the baby.  Instead she ran out of the house after the Tot and I was left standing helplessly in the living room.  Problem here of course is that by the time I run into the bedroom with the baby to put him in the a safe place (the crib) the Tot can easily be out in the road, in the creek, or God only knows where! AND that leaves me having to an infant alone in the house while I retrieve the Tot.  Thankfully, Aspie Teen is almost always home with me, and either stays with the baby or chases the Tot, but this situation is getting a bit ridiculous. Then of course, there is the Little Man (10) who loves to be outside with his friends, and continually comes in and out of the house, which causes the Tot to have meltdowns because he cannot go too!

I’m working on some solution ideas, but am soooo not looking forward to the summer months when all four boys will be home 24/7!

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.