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Choose

Little Man has a problem. Well, he has a lot of “problems”, but it really came to light during the IEP meeting last week. He wants to have control as much as possible. He wants to do what he wants to do. But he cannot choose when given choices.  It makes him anxious. It makes him shut down when he has to decide.

His mornings have been kind of wonky lately. I finally put two-and-two together this morning. Deciding what to eat for breakfast is overwhelming to him. He paces between the kitchen and family room. He will open the pantry and fridge at least three times each. I hear his breathing escalate. Yes, even deciding what to eat can be too much. But if I put something in front of him, the oppositional/defiant will kick in, and he pushes back. It’s basically  a lose-lose every morning, which is not a great way to get our days going.

We decided at the meeting last week we would not give him a choice what snack he will eat, nor when he will eat it. He will get popcorn or goldfish (whatever we happen to have for him at school that week) at morning recess. End of story. We know he has to eat basically every two hours. Given the choice, he won’t eat at recess, and will then fall apart between recess and lunch.  So, we’ve taken the choice away. He doesn’t have anxiety over deciding what to eat. He doesn’t have anxiety over when to eat, and he doesn’t have anxiety from being hungry. He’s had better days for the most part this week. The only day he had a meltdown was the day he didn’t eat at morning recess.

I try to keep all these things in my brain. It’s hard when you’re dealing with two other kids’ schedules. I hate putting the responsibility of making sure he eats on his brother and sister, but sometimes that’s a necessity.  They  know if he’s hungry, he’s likely to freak out.

We’re all learning, especially as Little Man’s needs are ever-evolving.  This choice thing doesn’t just apply to food, it applies across the board. The trick is getting him to think he’s choosing even when he isn’t. Sound like fun? Oh yeah.

8 thoughts on “Choose

  1. I love the way you’ve addressed this.
    I taught kindergarten, and one of the objectives is to help kids make choices, so it’s all the time choices. Red or blue? Tape or glue? Mittens or gloves? Fork or spoon? Two is really good for kindergartners.
    Years later, when my son was diagnosed with the ADD, I was given the advice to reduce choices. Food suddenly became a really big deal! I put the snack on the table at 4 o’clock and that was snack. I thought the kids would be upset at not having choices, but neither one of them even seemed to notice. In drive-thrus, apples and Sprite for them both. At yogurt shops, I made one, The Mister made the other. Not a single care in the world, not so much as a single verbal scuffle.
    Almost immediately, I realized how many choices I had to make daily, and I thought it would be nice if someone who loved me could make my choices for me. I mean, think about it. It is stress, even for a ‘neurotypical’ grown-up!

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