Nicky is completely obsessed with videos, computers, DVR and DVD’s and this love began way before he showed signs of autism. In these pictures he's not yet two and he's moving a chair to climb up, and put a video in a DVD player! Not just to watch, but his passion is to rewind, over and over and over again. He can rewind one part for hours. The problem, rewinding is like a drug for him. The more he rewinds, the more he wants to rewind, and the more he wants to rewind the more stimulated he becomes resulting is total meltdown.
It’s a vicious cycle that never ends well. When he is asked to stop he is so overwhelmed that he can’t function, he get’s aggressive and he can’t think of anything else and he says’ over and over the name of the video. When he get’s super over stimulated he can’t sleep and he wakes up in the night and goes looking for video’s. His frustration tolerance is so low he can be set off for no reason at all. He can’t focus at school, all day long he repeats over and over “video later, two video’s later” and there seems to be no way to stop him.
This behavior is so intense we have been known to remove all of the video’s from the house and we never take him to the library where they are for rent. This behavior is so severe that is disrupts his ability to do anything positive. However, he dearly loves them. So under the direction of his current behavior team we have included his video time, as part of his free time between 7:30 and 8:00 in the evening when he can pick an activity. This way he can't rewind long enough to get overstimulated.
This morning his usual therapist canceled so he and I were home alone and his routine was disrupted. He wanted to watch video's I said "No" not until tonight, he got angry, but soon calmed down. I was working with him on his favorite puzzles and books. All seemed to be going well. He was sitting doing a puzzle and I went to the restroom and asked our Saturday cleaning lady to keep an ear open for him. Three minutes later I hear "Donna! Nicky's at our house!". I run out of the bathroom to find my neighbor. She tells me "Nicky is at our house. He came in with some video's found our TV, turned everything on, moved the kids and put in his videos. I tried to move him but he's too strong" She looked frantic (as Nicky had never been in her house before) and the fact that he just walked right in and made himself at home was clearly unsettling. I was upset because NICKY WENT OUT OF THE HOUSE AND WENT ACROSS THE STREET BY HIMSELF AND HE HAS LITTLE OR NO DANGER AWARENESS!!!!! However, I held it together and went in their house. I directed Nicky to shut down their equipment, close the cabinet's and apologize. In the background was the kids grandmother, who spoke broken english, talking in an excited slightly stunned voice "He's very smart, he's very smart, he just came right in, found TV, found video, turned it on, so fast, so smart". They were all staring and I just wanted to leave...quickly, so we did.
I got Nicky back, took a deep breath and reminded myself that no one had actually been harmed and then I told him again that he can't leave the house without mom. We then packed up and went out for a while. When we got back 3 hours later he was calm and there was no talk of video's. Nonetheless, to be on the safe side I locked the back gate making it impossible for him to repeat his AM run. We came in the house and I asked him to do his play bins or puzzles. He went for the puzzles and I began putting away the groceries. Then I heard what sounded like the front door open! I drop the groceries and run for the front door. Nicky video's in hand is running down the street to our neighbors again!!!! Feeling out smarted I run, I catch him, bring him back and dead bolt the front door and pray we don't have a fire that requires our immediate exit! Now what am I going to do this kid is so determined.
A few minutes later I laughed to myself. That kid he is so smart. He was thinking "Who does she think she is telling me no video's. Oh... I can have video's and I am going to have video's if I have to do it myself" and he did. He made a series of astounding choices and assumptions as the left the house, he choose the back door as soon as I was out of the room and he thought he could go un noticed, he selected the one house on the street with kids his age, deducing that they too must have videos, then in his second escape he knew I would be tuned into the back, so he creeped out the front door. Incredible I thought. This is an amazing example of problem solving. I found that I could shift from just thinking about the fear of danger perspective to the ...wow am I proud of my really smart kid kiddo is motivated to get the job done.
So, this event that was scary became a reminders of how smart he is, and how typical he is. What kid wouldn't be trying to figure out a way, to get their way.
Yes, I still have to figure out how to keep him in, but I sure am proud that he can solve a problem when he needs to :-)