Matthew doesn't feel pain the same way as I do. That much was obvious from when he was tiny. When other toddlers fell over, they cried. A lot of them would look for their mums and then cry. Not only were they hurt, but they needed someone to recognise that hurt. Sometimes they wanted sympathy even if they weren't hurt at all.
Matt would run ahead, fall over, tumble right onto his tummy, or down on his rear and he would just pick himself up and walk off. He didn't need me to validate that he'd hurt himself, by brushing him down and cooing over him, or that is what I imagined. I mean, he was a focused and stubborn boy, who knew his own mind and didn't have time for any of that fancy *mum love*.
Then I did some reading. Well, I didn't choose to do the reading, not really. At first, when you have a child diagnosed with anything (mental illness, disease etc) then I am sure I would find you reading the pamphlets, the books, anything to find a reason WHY your child is not what they say he/she is.
You only have to look at the five senses to see this.
Matt would give eye contact – albeit briefly, and mostly to family, but… everyone knows that autism means a child doesn't look you in the eye. So he can't be autistic, right?
Matt wasn't over sensitive to texture in his food, or to colour, he didn't demand things not touch on the plate, and he spent quite a few years helping himself to frozen uncooked food to eat (nuggets, fries, fish fingers). So, he wasn't like an autistic child that was utterly focused on one item of food.
Matt didn't react to smells like an autistic child might. The books say that smells can often make an autistic child anxious. Therefore, Matt wasn't autistic.
Matt liked to touch everything. Using a combination of his hands and his mouth he would touch, taste, feel, everything and anything. He was also more than happy to hug his family, and would often fall asleep on me. He didn't have any aversions to touch, so therefore, he couldn't be like the autistic kids who didn't like to be touched, or didn't want to touch others.
Matt has perfect hearing, but he didn't give the impression that hearing things hurt him. Of course he didn't like the hand dryers in public restrooms, but hey, those things are loud. So, he isn't autistic, just easily startled.
So I read, and I read, and more and more I was convincing myself that Matt had just a language difficulty, or just, an aversion to loud noises. He just liked to walk on tiptoes because he enjoyed it. And he didn't talk because he was just a late starter…
All these things run through your head. Took me a few months to get my head around it all, his five senses may well work as typically expected for the most part, but there were big differences. Things became obvious as he grew older. He hated loud noises, couldn't stand the dark, or the light, began to turn his nose up as most food, and wouldn't wear jeans or any hard material. He liked green, everything had to be green, and he had an obsession with vacuum cleaners (which later led to ceiling fans and pylons).
And he didn't seem to feel pain, or at least he has the highest tolerance for pain that I have ever seen.
Last week Matt boiled a kettle, and the teabags were in a container, and he was pulling one out and had a delayed reaction to his finger being in the steam of the kettle. Where most of us would curse and pull our hands away, Matt didn't realise until it was too late, giving himself a nasty steam burn.
Matt's answer, after he did actually ask our advice on what to do next, was to cover over the burn.
With a sock.
He puts his hands into a sock. Because then he can't see the injury, and the pain isn't there.
Try as we might to look at the issue medically, he won't have us going anywhere near him to help. He's currently used ten plasters that he puts on and then an hour later takes them off, and then when he sees it and it upsets him he covers it with a sock. Very much, out of sight, out of mind.
So, my autism fact on this April blog tour is actually a quote from a blog post, which can be found HERE: https://thethirdglance.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/autism-and-pain-tolerance/
“… that my ability to distinguish, sort, and categorize signals from my
body is not very good. I often don’t know where a signal is coming from,
and figuring out the intensity of that signal doesn’t always happen. I
can have a massive response to a sound that hurt me, but I have also
walked around on broken toes before, wondering all the time why my foot
felt funny, but not registering that anything was seriously wrong. …”
Thank you for visiting this post, and I hope you have a look at the master post for all the wonderful authors taking part. HUGS, RJ X