Wednesday is my dinner out with the kids. I take one at a time for a bit of Mumma time. Dylan loves his Wednesdays, in fact every Wednesday, no make that every Monday evening we are already putting the feelers out for whether this Wednesday is *his* Wednesday.
When it is, we hear about his plans all day, he checks in with me regularly
‘Wednesday Pizza Hut’
‘Yes Dylan this Wednesday we will go to Pizza Hut’
I love it.
Things have changed recently at Pizza Hut; they did a buffet with refillable chips which Dylan loves. We have the same waitress who is absolutely lovely. She seeks Dylan out and knows that he really loves his food. One thing I love about taking Dylan to Pizza Hut is that the staff never really talks to me – Dylan orders us a table and gets us seated independently; the staff familiar with Dylan don’t even speak to me – I’m just with him.
This waitress loves to see how Dylan is and check he’s okay throughout our visit. As soon as Dylan’s bowl of chips runs empty she’s there ‘Would you like more chips?’ She understands Dylan’s ‘Yah bee’ and happily rushes off to get him some more.
However four – yes four bowls of chips later and Dylan’s looking grey, instinctively I took him to the toilet where he then threw up the aforementioned chips.
It got me questioning – what do I do? Do I stop him from eating so much like you would a toddler, or do I treat him like his 14 year old self and let him decide how much he wants to eat?
Josh and Grace definitely wouldn’t be allowed to eat that much but then neither would they want to as they know it would make them ill and I’m not sure if the waitress would offer the other two so many refills? Dylan is treated differently in what could be deemed as a positive light. Where he is so restricted in his communication and lack of interest in so many things when you do catch his interest it’s hard to say no to him or not grant his wishes. He does get treated differently to Josh and Grace who would often be told no to a second pudding but see Dylan eating his third because we were so happy that he initiated a interaction with us to request it that we agreed with him. But that isn’t right, nor is it sustainable.
I brought this up a recent ABA workshop where Dad and I talked through reflectively the issues that I know I have always had with telling Dylan ‘no’. I’m ashamed to say that once I let him eat 6 hot cross buns as he kept asking for them and I was so scared that if I said no to him then he wouldn’t ask me with his little PECS pictures anymore. Silly but that’s how autism affects you as a parent; Terrified of regression.
Then we realised we ask ‘Would you like…?’ when of course Dylan is taking the question literally; yes he would like but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he should have the said item.
We could ask Dylan ‘would you like ice-cream or a lolly’?’ Dylan will get muddled and ultimately answer both. Which of course he wants both but the fault is in what we are asking. The method of our question is naturally confusing for him.
From this workshop we are changing what we ask Dylan from ‘Do you want?’ to ‘What will you have?’ A more concrete question more steered to one specific answer than can be a truer reflection of his answer rather than a combination or false answer.
So when at Pizza Hut and Dylan’s next asked ‘would you like more chips?’ I will intercept with a ‘Are you having more chips?’ which then formulates the opportunity for Dylan to provide a more realistic ‘no’ after the second portion.
Wishful thinking eh?