Saturday, July 28, 2012

Autistic teen terrified of dogs

My son Matthew is nonverbal and now 16 years old. He has always been afraid of dogs and sometimes the encounters are chaotic in nature with the result someone getting hurt in the process, although not from the dog, it is usually from Matthew.

For years we used to walk around the lake down the street but there was a busy street on one side and the actual lake on the other side so when a dog was coming around the sidewalk there was not a lot of room to move away. Also bicyclists used to be dangerous as Matthew did not know what to do when one was getting close to us and I had to guide him to the grass area or we would stop so they could get around us.

Since the lake closed down for renovations we have been walking around the park and doing trails and stairs. This presents problems when we come upon a dog or dogs that may not be on a leash or get close to Matt when on a leash. He goes on the attack towards me and digs his fingers into my skin and runs or pushes me into the woods or a ditch and one time I almost went down the stairs.

I get bruises and marks on my skin from his attacks. He also runs and I have to catch up to him to get a hold of his arm or hand. Now that he is taller at 5'6 or so and weighs about 105 pounds it is not as easy as when he was younger.

Also in the earlier years I would get all those autism awareness shirts for Matthew to wear on excursions and for the summer months. Whether or not those really helped during this trying times is still a mystery because we get the stares and nodding of the head like they know or understand.

This is the reason why we still live in the same duplex house for fourteen years. All the stores we go to have the same people working for a number of years and they are familiar with Matthew. It is basically the other customers that have no clue what this teen boy is all about.

Now we deal with his foot stomping and constant burping while in line and out and about in public. He eats like an animal, gorging on food like he has not eaten in days.

Matt is not toilet trained so he is wearing generic depends for men underwear. Due to the large amounts of water he is drinking this summer he needs changing every hour or you will find he wet the floor or bed.

A few months ago we went to tour an open house for an autism school for high functioning college students. This was for my other son Nicholas. Matthew spent the whole time touching his private part while we were walking and he was laughing the whole time. Most of those in attendance did not seem to have any previous experience with a severe teen on the autism spectrum. Nick wanted to know why I brought Matt with us - like there was another option available.

I wish there was some sort of therapy that taught those kids on the spectrum how to deal with their fear of dogs. I would think they would need to use dogs for this and that would never work. We would not be able to afford a dog for Matthew for therapy so that idea is out thinking that would protect him from other dogs and also from escaping the house and school grounds.


James said...

Hi – Will you please post a link to your important Blog at The Autism Community at Our members will really appreciate it.
Members include: Those living with Autism, parents of children with autism, their families, friends, support groups, etc.
It's easy to do, just cut and paste the link and it automatically links back to your website. You can also add Articles, News, Photos, and Videos if you like.
Email me if you need any help or would like me to do it for you. I hope you consider sharing with us.
Please feel free to share as often and as much as you like.
The Autism Community:
James Kaufman, Editor

Anonymous said...

I'm a stranger, I know, so forgive me if I am out of line here when I ask if there is any chance your son could be placed somewhere else, where he is no longer a constant danger to you. It sounds like he has reached the limit of what you can do to care for him (not your fault!)

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