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Piece by Piece: Learning to Yield Control

Over the summer when my son Peter was struggling with loud thunderstorms, I sent a question to Dr. Temple Grandin about the subject. On the autistic spectrum, she has an incredible way of describing autism for those who want to understand, and her website now has a question and answer section.

Dr. Grandin told me to give Peter different recordings of thunderstorms. She said I should give him the ability to control the volume up and down, and emphasized his need to have control. Since it is winter, Peter’s storm fears are calmed quite a bit. I have decided to keep that advice for spring.

The control part though, gave me an idea. Peter recently had blood work done and now needs a second draw. I was not sure how I would get him in the building after the last experience, which took five women and quite a bit of cajoling and crying. Then I thought of the concept of putting it in Peter’s control.

I told Peter he needed to have more blood taken and that he could decide whether we would go on Monday or Tuesday. He immediately said he did not want to do it again, but then asked questions about why he needed more blood work. He then chose Tuesday. He did not obsess about the blood work again for the rest of the night.

Control. I had used this method when he was young and hated baths. I decided Peter would have more control in the shower. I would hold his hands so he wouldn’t slip, and tell him to go in the water just for the count of ten. We would repeat the process until he was all clean. I slowly stretched the count to 30. The other day, I actually heard Peter singing in the shower. He now wants all the control (and privacy).

Temple Grandin reminded me that as Peter grows, he needs to be in control of many of the pieces to this puzzle of growing up. Now I need to learn how to give it to him.

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