Copycat Crisis

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It’s been a difficult time at school for The Boy but then the first weeks back after the holidays always are aren’t they? At home he’s been a complete git. Much stroppier than any teenager I’ve ever known, myself included and he’s only six and three quarters!

On Saturday he went back to the children’s disability centre after a three week break. He loves going as he is able to interact with other autistic children, one boy in particular who he has taken a shine to. Unfortunately this boy is much older than him and is starting the teenage group in a few weeks. Whether The Boy picked up on this or it was just an extension of his struggles throughout the week, we don’t know but we were told he had a major meltdown in the park and had to be restrained by two of the carers because he was in danger of ‘bolting’.

Getting to the bottom of meltdowns can be difficult and sometimes we never understand what the trigger is. All we know is that he started hitting out and shouting that he ‘hated girls’. Then he tried to ninja kick the female carers who were having to restrain him. Thankfully there was a male carer who was able to calm him down. Apparently he was new so it was in at the deep end for him, poor sod.

The hitting out obviously isn’t new but I have no idea where this ‘hating girls’ has come from. Boys at school? TV? I don’t think this isn’t something that The Boy has come up with himself. It’s most likely something he’s seen or heard. It’s no surprise that boys of his age are starting to see girls as being, er, annoying so maybe he’s heard a boy casually say, ‘I hate girls’ on the yard but The Boy is literal and looking at it this way it’s easy to see how he could have interpreted it differently from his peers.

The thing about The Boy is that he mimics. If he hears words or phrases he likes the sound of he will repeat them whenever possible no matter how inappropriate they are to the situation. We have to be extra careful what we say around him but we’re human and occasionally slip up like when OH forgot himself and said ‘Bloody’ and The Boy repeated this at school. SHAMING!!

When it comes to TV, he’s nuts about Ninjago and anybody who’s ever had the pleasure of watching it will know that it centers around six teenage Ninjas – Kai, Jay, Cole, Lloyd, Zane and Nya. It’s a good versus evil with hormones thrown in. It’s normal for boys his age to be into stuff like this, right? Eldest boy was into The Teenage Mutant Turtles back in the 90’s while I had a secret crush on Shredder.

What? You’ve never had a crush on an animated character?

Er, moving on then…

The problem is when the child struggles to separate fantasy from reality…

My son thinks he is one of these characters. He talks like them. Raises an eyebrow like them. Stands with his arms folded like them, even on school photographs. He chooses the colour of his pants based on which Ninja he wants to be that day!

Worryingly he demonstrates his ‘ninja moves’ at school and recently this ended in him being carried out of the playground for time-out in the library. As a result Ninjago is banned before school. I only allow him to watch CBeebies in the morning. Yes, I’ve gone from one extreme to another but shows like Teletubbies and The Clangers have a relaxing effect on him. More importantly, Clangers and Tubbies aren’t on the receiving end of a ninja kick.. not that I’ve seen anyway.

The Boy was diagnosed with ASD as Aspergers no longer seems to be a stand alone diagnosis but he fits with Aspergers and many ‘Aspies’ are known to mimic, especially girls.

I mimicked as a child and teenager. In fact, a big percentage of my life has been to copy in order to fit in. It was a subconscious thing as a child but once I had an understanding that I was different, it became a coping skill in order to ‘fit in’ not that I ever really managed to. It’s only in recent years that I have allowed myself to be me because trying to fit into a society that you don’t understand is exhausting and thanks to my hormone malfunction (menopause) I no longer have the patience nor the inclination to be someone I’m not.

Me and The Boy differ in that sense that I never physically acted out in school at his age. At school I barely spoke and when I did the words wouldn’t come out right which only served to earn me the wrong kind of attention so I avoided it whenever possible which meant that things stayed in my head until I got home where I would ‘act’ it all out. Mum would testify to this if she was alive today as she was forever telling me off for shouting. This is one of the reasons she couldn’t understand the words ‘quiet’ or ‘shy’ on my school reports. It never occurred to me to tell her about what was happening at school but if she’d have listened at my bedroom door she might have realised that my play wasn’t imaginative but a word perfect reenactment of my day. The Boy is extroverted and acts out publically which creates problems especially as he’s fond of slapstick and all things ninja and so we have a big problem.

The ‘girl’ thing is being addressed at home and school and I’m confident it’s a blip. When it comes to Ninjago, it isn’t only restricted to the TV. He has comics, books, Lego and electronic games. His life is Ninjago and owls and any autism parent will understand about an autistic child’s obsessions.

This will be no easy task.

No matter what we do here at home, his male peers are mostly into the ‘good versus evil’ on the playground and though I have many skills as a mother, omnipresence isn’t one of them so I’ll have to leave that one to the school and concentrate on things at home.

Any ideas would be appreciated.

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Sons, Sand & Sauvignon

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14 thoughts on “Copycat Crisis

  1. Love reading your blogs Tracy but definitely out of my comfort zone here and I’m no way educated or *lived it* enough to be able to offer any helpful advice. That’s the thing, people on the outside looking in tend to think they have the answers but they need to walk a mile in your family’s shoes for any differences/illnesses etc before coming out with *easy* answers. Having said that I was wondering if you have room in your family for his very own (apart from you and his big sisters) female pet? I know pets that require taking care of, usually end up the responsibility of Mum but was just thinking that a girlie pet of some description *might* flip his thoughts on girls……???
    Big big kisses lovely lady 😘❤️Xxxxx

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    • Thanks Sheerie, I’m not overly concerned about the girl thing as I suspect he’s heard it from someone else and misinterpreted it. Our dog is a girl and he loves her and he adores his sisters. He also plays with girls at school. It’s really the ninja stuff that’s worrying me because he is SO obsessed by it. *weeps* Big lufs xxxxxx

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  2. Cor after reading this sound slice he is trying to deal with lots of changes I hope it settled down and that it is just a phase with the girl situation.
    I be honest I s till minic now which I am good at to a point until it gets complex as I am ridgid and if one thing changes I mess up. Or if to many stresses occur I regress. I have hit out and had some serious anger problems bur have worked through then over the pass four years. I have found recently the art of mindfulness and found it helpful. Probably as it is slow and reduction of stimuli. Also distraction helps me not for everyone of course. I hope normality resume and that the boy will recover from the detachment of the older boy. Maybe you can find the parents of the older child and swap numbers?! X

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    • Thanks lovely, Good to hear you’ve been working through your issues and mindfulness is a good tool to have. I’m working on that myself as I struggle to be in the moment. Ninjago is possibly one of the worst things he could be into given how over-stimulated he gets but that’s our fault for not seeing it sooner. I think he will still get to see the lad in the summer holidays so he can look forward to that, he just wont see him every week. X

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  3. Oh yes, I have a Ningjago lover, but she’s a girl. I really hope things settle for your boy, I find the return to school difficult, even though school holidays cause a different upset because of the change of routine. We get an awful lot of mimicking of phrases too. If my girl hears something amusing or clever she will repeat it over and over. And yes, I may have had a crush on an animated character (Waka, from Final Fantasy) but Shredder, seriously!!

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    • It was the original Shredder and he was v funny and, er, stuff. *coughs*. I’m just happy to hear that someone else has had a crush on an animated character as an adult lol

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  4. Echolalia, and copying actions is something we’ve had a lot of experience with, as I think you know. And Small Boy’s obsessions over certain things do drive me crackers, but I guess he’s secure with them, and he finds them comforting.

    Ninja kicks is a bit of a bugger though. They need a calming owl in Ninjago.

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  5. I don’t have any advice unfortunately. It would be easy to say take the ninja thing away but as you say that would be a near on impossible task. Could you perhaps work on a social story with him about pretend and real? I don’t really know how but it may help? Sorry I’m a bit useless 🙂 Thank you so much for linking up to #spectrumsunday lovely I hope you join me again this week xx

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    • Thanks Clare, yes, taking away the ninja thing you’d guess would be the way to go but it comforts him in the same way the owls do. It’s his escapism from everything that bothers him so that makes it an incredibly difficult task…not useless at all. Thanks for listening. Xx

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