Wednesday, February 22, 2012

When Autistic kids get bored...

... there will be blood.

This morning I woke up at 8 AM to a quiet house. Too quiet.

Though a school vacation day, and the kids had been up late the night before, Jacob is usually incapable of sleeping past a rather early point. 7:30 at the outside.

If I'm lucky, I hear him stirring and calling out to me softly, make it into the boys' room to hustle him out of his top bunk and into the living room before Ethan is disturbed.

Otherwise? If I have been sleeping too deeply? I am awakened to the dulcet tones of Ethan stomping into my bedroom wailing "Jakey woke me up TOO EARLYYYYYYYYY, he won't shut up!"

But this morning? Nothing.

Wondering: could it, might it be? I tiptoed into the boys tiny bedroom, very quietly, just in case Jake was actually, truly still asleep.

And was greeted by a very happy boy, extending his hand out to me with something carefully cupped in it. And a bloody grin. And whispering in a loud sotto voce:

"I lost my tooth, Mommy! The tooth fairy is coming. She will give me coins!"

But lo, in his outstretched hand was not just one tooth, but two. I was very confused.

a nice pair of deciduous first molars
Jake had been mentioning a loose tooth for a little while now, as had the dentist at his last, fairly recent visit. But this usually translates into a very wiggly tooth with a lot of complaining a few months down the road, followed by it falling out within a few days.

This was rather unprecedented.

When I'd last given what I thought was the tooth in question a good wiggle (never thinking it might be teeth - plural and bilateral!) it had seemed to be loosening a bit, but nowhere near ready to pop.

But enter a bored kid with an hour to kill quietly in his darkened bedroom and... instant self-dentistry.

Now after I got him into the bathroom, took a good look at where the teeth came from (one from each side, definitely baby teeth, the upper first molars) and got the streaky blood cleaned off his lips, chin and hands, I rushed him into the living room, plopped him in front of the TV, and made a beeline to Mr. Google.

Turns out he was right on time. I knew that after the first, central eight baby teeth come out around age 6-7, there was a bit of a latency period with no loss before the bigger, back baby teeth start to shed. And everywhere I looked that timetable said "9 to 11" for when the next tooth falls. And it is usually these first baby molars, before the canines. Whew!

And examining the teeth, the treasures he had offered up to me with such pride, I saw they they indeed were just the tops of the teeth, the roots clearly eroded by Jake's permanent teeth pushing their way out through the jaw.

Their time may have come too soon, but only by a bit, their last toeholds in Jacob's jaw being no match for his strong, insistent fingers.

Oh, and in case you were wondering why Jacob had to lay, bored, in his bed for about an hour waiting for me to come to him, instead of just getting up and either starting his day or coming to ME?

Autism. A certain intractability and rigidity to lessons learned early in his life.

When Jake was a toddler, and finally capable of getting out of his bed by himself? We told him to wait, and with a monitor on in the room, I always came to him the moment he called out to us, sometimes even before, as I was quite sensitive to the initial sounds of stirring. There was no reason for him to get out, when what he wanted (me!) would come to him.

And for years, I was so glad Jake waited for us. I never had to worry about my autistic boy wandering around the apartment by himself with us asleep. Not that there was much trouble to be gotten into in our place, and Jacob has never (THANK GOD) been an escape artist or bolter.

Even as Jake got a bit older, and I could choose to go back to bed once I'd gotten him set up with breakfast and TV/Computer/DS, steal an extra hour of sleep on the Sunday mornings when Jake arose at 6, it was comforting to know he was not attempting these things on his own.

But now, when Ethan would sleep until 10 AM if he could, when a monitor on in a 9 year-old boys room would be too intrusive, when it would make so much sense for Jake to quietly get himself out of bed and come into my room to get me?

He just won't do it.

He is too entrenched in his habits, his brain telling him: "this is the way it is" in spite of my having said to him EVERY Friday and Saturday night at bedtime, for A YEAR now: "Jakey, when you wake up tomorrow morning, don't lie in bed and call to me, climb down and come GET me, it's OK!"


Or rather: not yet. Because I have found that change does happen eventually, if glacially. Though much fortitude and patience is required.

And someday (soon?) he will surprise me by appearing at my bedside of a Sunday morning at 7 AM, ready to start his day.

Hopefully without more teeth in hand.

UPDATE: Looked in his mouth the next morning (upon his proud  reminder announcement: "Mom, I lost my teeth!") to check how the gums were healing and saw the bright white point of a permanent tooth already poking through on one side - so they WERE ready to pop, indeed.

Looking for comments? To read or leave a comment, click on THIS post's title, or HERE, to bring you to the post's page view. Comments should appear below.