Autism Mad to Glad, The Life of Carter

An interesting concept in our household is how Carter does this switch we call the Autism Mad to Glad. He will go from being out of this world upset, packing bags, moving to Alaska because “you won’t let me throw my TV” kind of mad, to “hey guys, I love you. Thanks for not letting me break my TV” kind of glad. Is it Carter being super smart and knows that if he starts acting really nice his family will understand, or is this an aspect from the autism?

Autism Mad to Glad
Autism Mad to Glad

Autism Mad to Glad

Let’s talk about an example. Carter loves Minecraft, and loves the creativity behind the concept of the game. The other day, he got really frustrated at the game because he knew how something should be in real life, but the game didn’t correlate. This began the spiraled derailment of “Glad” Carter. Long story short (want the full story, click here) Carter was not able to play Minecraft for a few days so he could think about throwing things and screaming and kicking towards people and why those actions cannot be tolerated.

Three days later, and the new Minecraft update comes out. Toy Story is part of the upload, and even has Forky as one of the characters. This leads to Carter being so happy, you can’t even blame the kid. He becomes lovable, picking up toys, helping out, kissing dad and mom on the cheek, you know the drill. So from the outside looking in, this is any kid. I want something, so let me act in a way to get it. Forget kid, this is any human on the planet who wants something.

Now let’s look at another scenario. This happens all the time for Carter within minutes instead of days. Kelli and I talk about it all the time. If Carter is being really bad and having a meltdown, if we can safely get him in his room without him getting hurt or breaking anything, he will forget about it in a few minutes. Like clockwork, he is screaming in his room.

Then it stops.

Then there is no movement for three minutes.

Then we hear humming.

Then he walks out humming, singing, and dancing like nothing has happened. He says “hi mom, hi dad, what ya doing?” All in about 7 minutes.

Autism Mad to Glad
Autism Mad to Glad

This of course gets us thinking. Is this a normal kid thing, but Kinley doesn’t do this. She holds a grudge against for the entire day. Is it a brain tumor thing, affecting memory. He can remember things with so much detail that it’s scary. The kid taught himself Spanish in weeks from an iPad video. Is it autism?

Then I came across this article while dealing research on the topic.

“Researchers including neurologist Nancy Minshew, MD, studied 76 children from ages 8 to 16. Half were verbal individuals with autism, half were normal controls matched for age, IQ and gender. The diagnosis of autism reflected social and communication impairments of the autistic type along with restricted interests and patterns of behavior.

First, the children with autism, compared to the matched controls, had poorer memory for complex information (many individual elements or one complicated element) in both word and picture form. In essence, the children with autism found it hard to remember information if they needed a cognitive organizing strategy to aid recall or if they had to detect such an organizing element in the information itself.

The authors speculate that, “People with autism don’t have the automatic cross talk between brain systems — the reasoning and the memory systems — that tells their brain what is most important to notice or how to organize it thematically.”

Second, children with autism also had poor working memory for spatial information, or remembering over time where something was located once it was out of sight. Although working memory for verbal information was fine, a “Finger Windows” subtest of recall of a spatial sequence easily distinguished between children with and without autism. Spatial working memory depends on a specific region of the frontal cortex that is known to be dysfunctional in autism.”

Children with autism focus on the details. That’s the world they live in. Does this make it harder, or easier for the child. Carter has a heart of gold, has the best intentions in everything he does, is super intelligent, and loves his family. I think you know where we are with the question. We wouldn’t trade anything about Carter for the world.

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