Friday, December 02, 2011

Fragile X, Autism and Animals

What is the deal with kids with Fragile X and animals?

Does anyone else notice odd behavior between their kids with Fragile X Syndrome and cats and dogs, or is it just me?

Are other kids with autism (but not with Fragile X) odd about animals too?

My boys don't like any animals.  I guess I'm referring mostly to cats and dogs.  They are distrustful and afraid of cats and dogs.

Well, except for the little bitty dog that lives behind us.  I guess AJ did sort of like that dog when they first met.  If AJ was in the backyard and that dog was outside at the same time, they'd meet at the fence and AJ seemed to really get a happy kick out of it, as it hopped and popped and yapped around, on the other side of the fence.

Of course they were always separated by that fence.

Sadie and Dudley are a couple of dogs that live in our neighborhood.  Big dogs - both labs.  Dogs that come up to the boys' chests.  And I can see where that would be intimidating.  But Sadie and Dudley are both very gentle and friendly, and none of the other little kids are afraid of them.  Neither dog has ever done anything to Zack or AJ to give them reason to be so fearful.

For Thanksgiving we were at Mark's sister's house, and they have a Boxer named Bogie.  He is great with all the kids.  And Bogie was very interested in Zack and AJ and wanted to sniff them and hang out with them.  But they put their hands out in front of them and backed away, saying "Bye bye, Bogie."  "No, no, Bogie."

We had a dog, when the boys were born.  A very sweet but neurotic German Shepherd/Collie mix named Friday.  When the boys were first beginning to crawl around, Zack crawled quietly over to Friday one day, and touched his back leg and surprised him.  Friday didn't like surprises, and didn't like having his back legs touched.  He jumped up, snarled, and put his mouth on Zack's face.  Left a few little teeth marks on Zack's chin and forehead.  And of course, scared the daylights out of him, and the rest of us.

So we found Friday another home with a family who had teenagers who wouldn't surprise him.  At the time, we had only had the twins' diagnosis of Fragile X for a few months.  I was just learning how difficult it was going to be to teach them to be gentle with the dog.  I was enormously overwhelmed at the prospect of raising twins with Fragile X, and had no idea how I was going to keep them safe.  I had to let my dog go.

I really don't think Zack remembers that incident, though. 

Now I can understand a little more why one might be wary of cats.  They are more unpredicable.  Our cat, Lily, has never been a friend to the boys.  She acts like a typical little sister. She follows them around and gets into their business whenever she can.  They walk slowly and cautiously around Lily, never taking their eyes off her, ready to run if she makes a move toward them.

Zack actually had a bit of a scuffle with her too, shortly after she joined our family - he gave her a little shove, and she reached up and scratched his cheek.  That's why she is now declawed.

So that could be why he mistrusts the cat.  But that was years ago now.  And it doesn't explain why AJ too, will walk a wide berth around the cat.  It doesn't explain why if Lily walks toward either of the boys, they back away, like I might if a skunk waddled over toward me.

My parents have a cat -a huge, orange, whiny, somewhat elderly guy named Bob.  The boys aren't that afraid of Bob.  But that might be because Bob has little to no interest in them.  He leaves them alone.

We have pets because I figure it's a good experience for them.  I could write a whole other post, though, on thing I do just because it's good for them.  I'll call it Ways in Which I Torture My Children for Their Own Good.

1 comment:

Salt in Suburbia said...

So I guess an autism service dog is out of the question then ;-)


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