Autism & Bad Habits 11


As a parent to a child with Autism, very often you have to make a decision over which battles you are going to fight and which you are going to let slide. In the early days, pre diagnosis and soon after diagnosis, many of your battles aren’t with your own child’s behaviour, but with the system. Fighting for appointments, assessments, referrals and support. This really does take it out of you, so when it comes to a little bad habit creeping in, you’re usually too exhausted to fight it whole heartedly and say to yourself we will deal with that another day.

Autism & Bad Habits

Recently, I have found myself getting quite frustrated with some of the decisions I have made along the way, and what that means for us now. This isn’t me saying I was a bad parent or wrong. The decisions I made at the time were for very good reasons, but as time goes on, what became a little bad habit that you knew you’d have to tackle one day, becomes a big deal. A behaviour that is going to take a lot of time and patience to adjust and adapt as your child gets older, stronger and heavier. This isn’t all about Hayden either, we have bad habits surrounding his autism too.

Autism & Bad Habits

The Dummy

This is one of the big bad habits we have in this house. Hayden has always had a dummy and until he was about 3 and a half we never really questioned just how much he used it. He would have it most of the day and all night, at one point we had to start putting several into his bed at night. If he woke and his dummy had fallen out, that would be him causing a scene in the middle of the night, often waking Ellis in the process. Over time we managed to limit the dummy to just bed time. We would take it off him and hide it through the day and give it him back as part of his bedtime routine. Basically when it was time to calm and settle down. Over the past year he has started managing to either find the hidden dummy or finding other ones that are stashed around the house. Then taking it away became difficult, it would cause a tantrum that would then turn into a complete meltdown. I admit, I gave up. And now we are back to him having it all day. He leaves it on the side before he goes to school, and it is first thing he looks for when he returns, immediately followed by the remote control, and then a snack.

How do we tackle this now?

I think the key here is to remain consistent, he gives it up and has it returned at the same part of a routine each day. Our hiding places definitely need to become more sneaky too! I am hoping it will be an easy process as we are slipping it into his routine.

The bedtime routine

Or lack of it should I say? I have talked about bedtime before, but things are really, really difficult here at the moment. As a baby and toddler Hayden was always a great sleeper, but over the past couple of years bed times have become harder and harder to manage. At first he would not settle unless a specific routine was in place. Once James and I both had the same routine nailed, things got easier for a time. Then came the waking in the night problems. After a while we worked out, if he went to sleep before 8pm we would have problems through the night. Then came the nightly meltdown. I’m not sure whether I was the problem here, because with a new baby, not every night is the same, so his routine started slipping. Daddy had much more success than I did, but often because he was able to lay with Hayden whilst I was downstairs with Kinley. Then all of a sudden every night became a 3-5 hour battle to get him to settle in bed. We then started allowing him to stay downstairs until he looked well and truly ready for bed. That made things easier for a short time. Now he flat out refuses to go to bed. We have to let him fall asleep on the sofa and then carry him upstairs. I can no longer carry him upstairs as he is too heavy, so we have to wait for James to get home. As we have 2 reception rooms and I do most of my blogging in the evening in the kitchen, it worked for us. He would fall asleep around 9pm so our evenings weren’t completely disturbed and if we wanted to watch anything on TV we had another room to do it in. Over the past month or so, the 9pm (ish) falling asleep has got later, and later, and later. Some nights he is still up when James get’s home from work around midnight. If he was calm and just watching TV it wouldn’t drain me so much but the second his brothers go to bed, he is bouncing off the walls. Throwing toys, squealing, running around the downstairs of the house. This is even after us trying to do things to tire him out!

How do we tackle this now?

To be totally honest I’m not really sure where on earth to start. Routine is clearly important here but maybe we need to introduce it slowly so it becomes ‘normal’ over time. It is something we will definitely be bringing up with the paediatrician follow up appointment in June too.

Intensive Interaction

Hayden is quite a solitary child, he likes his own company, and only seems to want interaction on his terms. If he is absorbed in a game, his brothers are allowed nowhere near him, when he gives a signal, we know it is ok for anyone to interfere. This signal is usually a laugh type noise in one of his brothers faces, that generally means he wants to play. With James and I, he will come and give us cuddles as and when he wants them, and he makes it clear if he wants us in the same room as him or not. (either dragging us or saying bye, see you soon, love you). Because of this we kind of just let him get on with it, but I do worry sometimes we aren’t trying to interact with him enough, are we isolating him further? Does he think his brothers get more attention? From what I can tell, he doesn’t feel this way, but I don’t know that for sure.

How do we tackle this now?

I’m not convinced we need to, to be honest, but I don’t think it will hurt either, for us both to spend an hour with him on a 1:1 basis, joining in with something we know he enjoys. Maybe running around the house and throwing toys at 11pm?

The toilet troubles

A little while ago I wrote a post about how we potty trained Hayden. About 3 days later problems started to arise. We have seen a fair amount of regression on the toilet training front. He is now wetting the bed at lease once a night, and having accidents, some genuine, some on purpose right outside our toilet door. It is incredibly frustrating. We are trying not to make a fuss, but we also don’t want to allow Ellis to think that is acceptable as we are also potty training him at the moment. He has completely ruined our corner sofa in the playroom and we are now going to have to get rid of it without having any spare cash at this moment in time to replace it, causing us problems with where will he fall asleep now? I literally couldn’t keep up with cleaning it, and half the time not knowing until a little while later. By this time the wee had soaked through to the actual seat cushion. You walk into the playroom and are hit with a smell of urine. It is disgusting and I hate living like that. Febreeze only does so much let me tell you! I’m also going through washing liquid like it is going out of fashion!

How do we tackle this now?

Any tips? I really have no idea! It is regression I know, but I have no idea what has caused it, or how to get back on track.

autism & bad habits

These are only a few of the things I originally put in my list to talk about, as I wrote I didn’t realise how many things were bugging me. I think what I will do, is work on these things over the coming months and then start thinking about the other things on my list, after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Did you find bad habits creeping in to every day life? Did you experience any of these? I’d love to hear your thoughts and how you overcame them?


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11 thoughts on “Autism & Bad Habits

  • amanda walsh

    I have always struggled with what to allow and what to not allow. I still do, as Miss S isn’t very verbal I worry that stopping her doing certain things could have a negative effect and she wont be able to verbally tell me

  • Stephs Two Girls

    I think realising that there are things to be worked on is half the battle, but there’s no need to stress about it as you say. Slowly and surely, whenever you are all ready for it, is the best time! Good luck 🙂

  • Rachelswirl

    Urgh bad habits always creep in …
    1- picking nails (try to remind him to fiddle with something else)
    2- picking lips (try to give him something to chew or fiddle with)
    3-noise making (try to sing or give him a pattern to join in with rather than making noises).

    There’s loads and loads but I accept them all and just continue to encourage him to be aware of what he is doing.

    • Sons, Sand & Sauvignon Post author

      Good point Rachel, I think it’s the things that effect family life that bugs me the most, but maybe I’m just thinking too much into it all. Fingers crossed some of these he will naturally grow out of. He is still such a little boy really xx

  • Anne

    I think routine is very important but you have to find out what works for all of you. I found that I was keeping my girl up later and later in the hope that her bedtime routine wouldn’t take hours, but she just got overtired and then more hyper. Now she goes to bed with her sister and Daddy stay with her until she falls asleep, usually with the light on and the radio on. Before I got ill, this wasn’t allowed, but sometimes you have to make allowances just for peace. She still gets up in the night and comes to our room, where she sleeps in her bother’s toddler bed, he has now moved into a big bed in his own room. Another habit we need to break. I wish I could help on the toileting front but our girl has always had problems and she’s 10 now. We tried everything including painting our bathroom pink with princess stickers when she was little just so she liked the room a little more (She would scream if we made her go in there before!) Life is never easy is it? At least we know we are not alone in all of this x

  • Rainbowsaretoobeautiful (@rainbowsaretoo)

    Sometimes people have no idea about the difficulties of these sorts of things. David is five and still has a dummy when he is upset and often when falling asleep. Our real difficulty is his younger sister is the same and we are going to have to do a ‘dual withdrawal’ very soon. I am not looking forward to it. Sorry not much advice on the bed and wetting stuff except to put out towels etc. Some kids put on bedtime pants but it can also be seen as a reversion allowance. It’s hard to make suggestions about routine a in the evening because it really is situation dependent and has to work for the family. Xxx