Friday, January 9, 2009

The Scent of Things

As mentioned in prior posts concerning Casey's new classroom situation, they now send home daily a point sheet which details his day in terms of how many points he gets or points he gets taken away (for bad behavior). It's sorta ridiculous really, not only because the points are in groups of 500's and Casey needs a calculator at this point to add 5+9, but because points are not a big motivator for Casey. Sure, if he gets so many points, he gets computer time or he gets to go to some party they plan at the end of the week etc. So, it's not so much the points, but the reminder of what he gets if he maintains all his points that really, well, makes the point, to Casey.

While I call the system "ridiculous", for some reason, the point sheet is the first thing I pull out of his backpack each afternoon after he gets off the bus. I can't wait to see how he did and how many points he got, and also to see if they wrote any comments. Monday, he got a pretty good report, it actually said he had a really good day!

Immediately following that however, it said that there had been 2 episodes of him grabbing a para's head and his new teacher's head so he could "smell" them. This is a pretty common practice in our household. Prefaced with a "Let me love you Mommy." said in a rather sultry voice (weird I know, but it is sultry) he grabs me round the neck and pulls the side of my head to his nose and sniffs me deeply. Being the olfactory sensitive child that he is, I suppose he's soaking me in this way. He also tends to do this to other women (no, I'm not too jealous), and usually ones who he likes. I'm used to it but his unsuspecting subjects aren't. I can only imagine how well these little episodes went over at school....well enough for him to lose some of those all important points. Reportedly, they told him "No thank you" and gently pushed him away.

That sorta made me sad. I mean, I know it's inappropriate at school, and I usually try to banish this behavior out in public, especially since he his about my height and when he does it I'm pretty sure it looks really weird to any onlookers nearby. But at the same time, it's sorta sad that his senses cause him to seek out scents as a comfort, and he's told it's wrong.

People use their sense everyday for pleasure, listening to music, smelling flowers, watching a sunset, touching something silky. But, as usual Autism throws a wrench into things for Casey using his senses for his own pleasure. It kinda goes along with say, oh dancing vs. stimming. Sure, it's okay for folks to wiggle around rhythmically to music on a dance floor together. It feels good and it's fun. But a kid stimming in a mall because it feels good is suddenly cause for paparazzi like cell phone photography. I guess that's why when Casey starts stimming out in public I occasionally do it with him, there's power in numbers.

Needless to say, his loss of points at school for this "behavior" was all the punishment he got for these incidents. I explained to him why he could only do it at home to me, and he said "Let me love you Mommy.", and with his nose pressed firmly to my temple, I did.....

12 comments:

Cale said...

I find the fact that you stim along with C in public awesome and slightly hilarious. Thumbs up.

Bonnie said...

C is not my boy, although I would be proud to have him, but that of Casdok who is a fellow blogger and owner of the one you were linked to.

Casey stims quite enthusiastically too sometimes, so we both look pretty funny together doing it! World be damned!

Cale said...

My mistake. Sorry.

A friend of mine has joked about filming me and some of my autistic or Tourettic friends stimming/ticcing at various times and creating a music video to "Twist and Shout." It would be quite an amusing sight, I do believe.

Barbara said...

I think that it's interesting that in the same week that I posted on behavior mod programs you post on the point system at his school. And while I subtitled my last post potpourri you titled yours "The Scent of Things". Just a funny coincidence, eh?

Casdok said...

I stim in public too along with C. So im very much with you in that. I feel its an education to others. As well as enjoy doing something with my son!

Im also with you that i think the point system they use sounds ridiculous and its very sad that he is punished for a behaviour that is very natural for Casey. Autistic behaviour shouldnt been seen as bad or inappropiate. Its just different. And sad that our guys are made to conform rather than others accepting difference. (ok i would draw the line at violent behaviour)

A good post which raises some intersting issues. :)

rainbowmummy said...

Yeah I agree with Casdok. How about next meeting (parents night or whatever) you ask then what the teachers are doing to improve "realations" "interaction" "emotions" "feelings" etc.

I can see you do it, lovely :0) And the stimming, ahh Casey is just your "excuse" ;)!!!!

claire p said...

It's confusing for them isn't it? One minuet they're being told that to interact is good, then when they do it in their own unique way they're told to stop. Jamie has a thing about demin. When I (and only me for some reason) wear jeans he will come up (not everytime) and tug at them. I let it go, but he did it to one of his ta's at school so they gently told him not to. Fair enough I suppose, you can't go around grabbing people's trousers!!
Jamie does 'stimm' in public, but if anyone is stairing I guess I just don't notice. When your husband is old enough to be your father you get used to funny looks!!

Bonnie said...

Barbara, I've never seen your blog but will check it out! That is a coincidence! LOL

~Mama Skates~ said...

my son likes 2 smell too...he's the 1st to notice if i'm wearing new perfume! ;0) i agree - stim along! so sad that our children have 2 refrain from doing something so natural 4 them!

mommy~dearest said...

Oooh- we had similar problems like that in our first school. It got to the point that I had to have written in his IEP "will not receive negative consequences for stimming".

I can see the difference when the stim invades a person's personal space, but yes, it is saddening that Casey is denied that input when he seeks it.

Does he just seek out scents of different people, or scents in general? I'm wondering if the behavior at school could be replaced with something like scratch-n-sniff stickers or something of the like. Also, it may be a combination of the smell and the feel of the person's hair? My son used to press his lips (really hard) on my face- I thought it was the feel of my face he liked, but it turned out it was the pressure on his mouth area. He will now execute that particular stim on his little brother's head, his blanket, the cat...

As a last note, I too, think that point system is slightly ridiculous. ;)

mommy~dearest said...

Ah! Pressed comment too soon.

My suggestion would be to have the teachers offer him a substitute target instead of just saying "no thank you" and pushing him away. How about them saying "no thank you, but you could do (this) instead?"

Also, while this behavior is not appreciated during school, in my opinion, they should not be holding it against him. Just redirecting him should be enough, he shouldn't have to lose points.

Okay- I'm done now. :)

kia said...

Aw, that IS really sad. I'd be sad, too. :(