Autism and Independence

D is now 7, and the list of things he should be able to do for himself is growing.  I am grateful of all the things he does independently.  It’s been a long, tough battle, but D brushes his own teeth with toothpaste every single morning.  Not without asking.  Not without me preparing the toothbrush and making sure it gets done, but toothbrushing for us has been a 3 year arduous battle.  I’ve been in his face more times than I can count, alternately yelling and coaxing.  At times, I’ve had to give up and do it myself.  But for the most part I won. My reward came last week when the dentist told us zero cavities and I’m doing a wonderful job with him.


D can dress himself and put on his own shoes and socks.  Once again, A long arduous battle ensued.  D didn’t want to dress himself and would deliberately mess it up, putting on shorts or his shirt wrong or backwards.  Anything to get me to do it for him.  D feels absolutely no need to be independent.  He would prefer for me to do it all for him, always. Requests for him to learn something new that promotes independence has always been a battle.  Self-care battles are daily excursions.


With pottying we are coming along.  He is almost completely independent, except that he won’t wipe.  We have been battling toileting for almost 2 years now.  We are still waging that battle, although his 1+ year continuous requests for a pullup are gone.  At this point, he realizes mama won’t give up or give in and he’s accepted the inevitable.  His occasional accident seems the result of carelessness or distraction.  Slowly, surely it gets better.  He has not had an accident in public in months.  It’s yet another thing that’s difficult.

It’s now time for him to learn to wash himself in the bathtub.  I’m hopeful that this battle won’t be quite as significant.  Our first foray night before last was successful.  D put up a token and half-hearted resistance.  It was obvious though he cared little about getting the dirt off and I imagine it will be months, at least, before I’m able to trust that he will wash well enough to remove the dirt.  I would try a shower, since his father has threatened him with one if he cannot stop getting water all over the floor, but I’m afraid that the sensory bombardment of water would prove way too distracting.  Plus, it would be difficult for me to watch to make sure he washes well.

A is now potty training as well.  He’s much easier, of course.  It’s been about 2 weeks and he’s about got it down.  He wears underwear most places.  Since he doesn’t have Autism he is much easier.  A wants to be independent and do it himself.  He is also delayed, though, so some things are still hard for him to do.  I still help occasionally with dressing, and brushing his teeth.  Still, it’s not the years long battle that I have with D and for that I’m eternally grateful.



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