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As our son gets older and self-awareness joins his condition, I’m finding less to celebrate. It’s not him. I love him. It’s the autism I could do without.

For example, he’s now realizing that he can say “no” to any rule that we’ve set up. Take this morning: it’s Saturday and he was up at 6:55 (many weekend mornings, it’s been 4 or 5 a.m.). At bedtime last night I asked him to stay in bed until at least 8. Instead, he rolled out of bed just as the Sun was yawning and stretching, and turned on the TV, which is just outside our bedroom (he’s already learned how to bypass my elaborate and intricate “powerless entertainment center” system).

I told him to go back to bed, to which he started screaming (I knew at this point that I was up for good). If it was a school morning, I’d have to drag him from bed to the bathroom, and would still be graced with the same screaming. He doesn’t just scream for a second, and then nod back off to sleep, either. As any other morning like this one (or at any time he does not want to follow any rule at all), he began yelling at the top of his lungs. “But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But, Daddy.” We can’t even “Discipline” him, for lack of a better word. It just makes it worse. Any push-back or consequential action we take is met with more of the same: “But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But, Daddy. But, I CAN’T!”

Yeah, that’s the other one. “I CAN’T!” When we ask him to take his medicine, or poop, or leave the house for school, or get out of bed (or the car), or turn down the volume on his portable DVD player, or put his brand new headphones back on. “I CAN’T!” He, as with many others like him, lack’s what’s called “theory of mind.” Here, read this from Simon Baron-Cohen, an authority on the subject: (Theory of Mind study).

Even now, as I type this post and respond to his request for breakfast that I will get it for him at 9, the challenge continues. He’s ready now, and there’s nothing I can do about it. “But. But. But. But. But. But. But, Daddy. I go to get breakfast.” He then holds a note: “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

I’m in no way trying to compare this to your struggles with coprophagia or encopresis (No links; If you deal with them, you already know; If not, I’ll let you look them up). This is just our house. And we no longer celebrate.

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