So there have been many twists and turns to the ongoing question of whether my son is on the spectrum. We’re currently waiting for a specialist to come observe him at his nursery school, since the in-house expert said he ticked a lot of the boxes, but he just didn’t fit the conventional definition and she couldn’t say for sure. Since there aren’t a lot of these specialist, we have to wait until spring for an answer. The whole process has made me really analyze how we’ve raised him and be more quick to compare him to other children.
This morning the four year olds had a field trip to the theater. This meant I had to get him there early, so the kids could all bundle up and walk into town. Since I didn’t want to walk through the coat room and disrupt him with my presence, my daughter and I hid out in his classroom till they left. Since so many kids were going, Pixie kids were being put into the Dragon room. When very young 3 year old was quite distressed. She sat on the principal’s lap whimpering about it being the wrong room and her lunch being in the other room’s fridge. This surprised me. My son loves it when I leave him for a long day, because as the consolidate the dwindling number of children they keep switching rooms. New toys, new kids, new space, new everything: he thinks it’s just grand. He loves it when there’s a national holiday and he goes for a few days to the børnehave designated for the kids of parents who have to work through it. He’s always up for adventure.
This is really interesting when you think about the fact that he has OCD and is obsessed with order, process and following rules. I even had someone from the kommune suggest that we should do an activity board at home like the do at school, since he likes order so much. I vehemently opposed this. He may like structure, but it’s not good for him. The world is a chaotic place and he needs to be able to function in it. Just because the crosswalk light turns red, doesn’t mean we can stop in the middle of the road, because the cars will move.
So this leads me to realize he probably has a love/hate relationship with order and rules. At home, we have consistency and stability, but I have always tried hard to make sure we don’t have the monotony of rigid routine. He’s a happy easy going kid at home. At nursery school, there are all these rules about where you put your lunch box or when you can play what. He does great with them, up until someone randomly goes and changes it, says he doesn’t need to adhere to the activity board or that he can sit in a place with someone else’s picture, at which point he has a total melt down. If there are rules, they must be followed. So the rules are relaxing in that you know what’s expected of you and at the same time extremely stressful in that they have to be followed. If you don’t feed his OCD, he is great at change, he embraces it joyfully, but if you feed that beast and then take away it’s food…well it’s not surprising that he gets stressed.
I don’t know how he compares to other children with OCD or who are on the spectrum, but I think it’d be interesting to explore if maybe the answer isn’t more rules, but teaching them how to exist without rules. For adults it’s too late, but with toddlers, you might be able to teach a totally different set of coping mechanisms that ends up being much more high functioning adults.