Today is World Autism Awareness Day

186650_100000273330387_2633165_nIt’s that time of the year, folks.  The day when I try to think of a new way to explain my little guy.  Well, this year he’s not so little since he surpassed me in height and is officially a teen.  THE DOOM!

Right now, he’s on spring break and I told him to go scoop dog poop.  As he does this chore, I hear him humming.  I wish it were a tune, but he prefers a single a note, constant in tone.  Think a deeper emergency broadcast system sound.

He’s been humming a lot today.  He hummed as we walked around the block and up to town.  He hummed as he waited for me to cut his hair.  And he’ll likely hum when we put him to bed tonight.

Humming is his stim of choice most days (occasionally, throat clearing and finger biting enter the mix too).

For those that don’t know, stim is the label for the action.  Stimming is the act.  And all that is short hand for self-stimulatory behavior.  (More info here.)

Even though my son’s been doing it for so many years, we have yet to always know why.  We have decoded that he does it at night to stay awake, because he has always hated sleep.  (Why he hates sleep, we don’t know.)  We sometimes know it is because he’s been bombarded with sights and sounds (like after a party) and he needs some quiet time.

However, why does he do it right after waking up?  Not every morning, but at least twice a week, he wakes up, his feet touch the floor, and he’s humming.  With alarm clock or without.  We just don’t know why.  And there are random, nothing seemed to trigger it times where it happens.  And I’d say about 65% of his stimming is this.

By the way, don’t think he’s unaware.  He asks for permission to go outside to hum and pace.  (That’s why we gave him the dog poop scooping chore.)  He says it is fun and he likes doing it.

I won’t lie.  That humming gets mighty annoying.  I have asked him to stop more than once (while writing this post I asked twice).  Finding the balance of what he needs and what my sanity will allow is not always easy.  Like I said, a single constant note.

So, that’s a piece of my experience with my son.  Not all autism experiences are the same.  I encourage you to go learn about people’s lives and learn facts about autism.  Become aware and support research so we can learn more.

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