Friday, September 21, 2007

Coming at my son's quirks from the same side of different

Last night, Trillian and I sat down for another session of "Rate Your Child." The developmental pediatrician we're going to uses somewhat different forms, so we couldn't just run off another copy of the master we have of the Sensory Profile and Developmental History. Which meant I read the questions out loud and Trillian answered Never, Sometimes, Often, or Very Often; I would mark down her answers, occasionally quibbling with her--often or very often, sometimes or often?

It quickly became obvious to us that these forms are intended to cover a much wider range of children, many of them significantly older than Scooter. I read off all of the questions to Trillian, even the ones for which the answer was obvious. Has he used weapons to attack people? Broken into stores or houses? Is he sexually active?

Then there were the ones that pointed up the divide in our perceptions of "normal" and are a reminder that many of Scooter's quirks did not appear out of nowhere. Does he make noises that are odd or for strange reasons? (He does make noises, but they make sense to me. He copies ambient noise and makes other sound effects.) Is he excessively shy with strangers? (I wouldn't want him to be immediately friendly to strangers. And what's excessive, anyway?)

One that didn't require any real discussion, that it's obvious he fidgets with his hands very often, led to Trillian's description of what he does with his fingers a lot of the time. I smirked a little. "You do it too?" she asked, half question, half knowing the answer. I held up my hand and gave a little performance of one of the things I do absent-mindedly--tapping each of my fingers in turn onto my thumb. I'm not too obvious about it, but I do that or some other hand-occupying thing when not otherwise engaged.

Sheepish grin and a shrug. What can I say?

(And it's too big a topic to attack right now, but I do think a lot about the genetic aspect of all of this, about how much of me--sometimes to a startling degree--I see in Scooter. So in some respect I did cause whatever this is that is tripping him up. On the other hand, it's not exactly guilt that I feel, and I need to unpack what it is that I do feel.)


Lisa b said...

I just find this so fascinating. It is so interesting that you do the same thing with your hands but I hate how that makes you feel somehow responsible for any challenges Scooter may have.

If you are interested I'll send you some info on Julia's disorder. There is a gene that explains 90% of cases. (What causes the other ones?). It can be mild to severe and it can be confounded by kids also being autistic, autistic-like, ADHD.

In one case study the mom carried a mutation on the gene that resulted in vastly different outcomes for her three kids. I am just a geek but I thought it might make you feel better. It's not you, it's biology.

bubandpie said...

I twitch my fingers a lot - I'm typing out my thoughts. I'm not sure what I did with my hands before I learned the QWERTY keyboard. I always thought this was a weird quirk until I started reading blogs - apparently there are lots of us typers out there.

And what's normal? That is exactly the question.

One of the few redeeming features of Tuesday's interview was that the psych. expressed great respect for nursery school teachers - he figures they know more than anyone about what's normal. Bub's nursery school teacher mentioned yesterday that she's got a release form for me to sign so she can bring in a representative from All Kids Belong to help develop strategies to help Bub interact with the other children. So she, at least, does not think we're crazy.

Aliki2006 said...

I agree with lisa b--don't feel guilty or responsible (easy to say, because I do a bit--for Liam--see below!). That particular quirk of Scooter's may just be because he's watched you do this. What could be inherited is the need to have a "tic" and, if he hadn't developed yours, then he might have developed another one.

I know that my family's genes come into play with Liam. My brother has OCD, and my sister has a lot of social anxiety. But then again, my family is incredibly creative and interesting, as is Liam.

It's tough--and perplexing. And it's hard not to think about one's role in whatever is going on with one's kids.

kittenpie said...

Huh, it's funny, but I don't think of that as even being quirky, the finger-tapping. Fidgety, perhaps, but lots of people are fidgety. is it actually a "symptom" (for lack of a better word) of being on the autistic spectrum?

magicdrgn said...

I'm right there with you, tics and all!

Trillian said...

Kittenpie- He does it while trying to hold hands with us, so it's definitely more than just a little tic. He really HAS to do it even when he's trying to do something else.

Mouse said...

And also, tics in and of themselves are not a symptom that will suggest autism, but specific tics combined with other specific symptoms are a bigger indicator.

For me, the finger-fidget is not quite as specific as I mentioned. The key really is that I'm almost always doing something with my fingers and can't necessarily stop even when I know I'm doing it.

Aliki2006 said...

I think the official name for it is "stimming" and stims are characteristic of spectrum behavior--especially when used to comfort, or reduce stress. They come and go, too and take different forms--Liam had something he did with his hands/fingers for awhile, then he had one that drove us nutty for a full year--he would chew his clothes. His sleeves and neckline were always wet and bedraggled and he couldn't seem to help himself. Now he makes humming/clicking noises with his mouth when frustrated or excited-almost like he's trying to play a musical "soundtrack" to whatever exciting thing is happening.

Trillian said...

Aliki-yes that is exactly it. I forgot the word last night. Scooter did the chewing thing too when we had him Speech Therapy. He was chewing like crazy and grinding his teeth when spoke because he was so anxious about it. Thankfully, he quit that a few weeks after ST ended.