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Continuum Concept and the Autistic Spectrum

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Posted on : 6:16 PM | By : Nic | In : ,

I've been reading a great deal lately, as always, struggling to do what's best for my kids and work out where the issues come from.

As parents we started out as Attachment Parents. I breastfed for a year, they slept in our room for a year, we carried them in a sling and held them most of the time. Then we became Continuum Concept people and tried to correct all the child-centered mistakes we made as AP people.

I finished reading the book Our Babies Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent by Meredith Small a while ago, but I am still thinking about it.  It made an impact on me because it helped to clarify some of what is in the Continuum Concept.  I had huge feelings of guilt after reading the CC book because I felt as though I really had followed my instincts, and yet my firstborn was not 'innately social' or happy the way a CC child could be.  I must have done something wrong I thought.


The tribe described in The Continuum Concept has no maladjusted children, crying children or special needs children.  Or very rarely, and even then they are not extremely malfunctioning or anti-social.  Where are the autistic children?  The children with disabilities?  The children with birth defects from a pregnant mother's malnutrition?  As Our Babies, Ourselves points out, the truth may simply be that when a baby is not like all the other 'normal' babies and is seen as weaker in some way, many tribes kill the baby, or allow it to die.  It is a survival mechanism.  That's why the tribe will let a baby roll around at the edge of a cliff... if it isn't smart enough to avoid danger, it becomes a liability. 

So in our culture we have many children, whether from our own toxic environment or simply genetics, who are not innately social, who have no empathy, who are absolutely oblivious to danger, and infants who resist being held even though you know that they need touch in order to survive.  It is almost like having children with no survival instinct at all.

So how does one approach raising a child with behavioral disorders and neurological dysfunction from a Continuum Concept point of view?  As I go through every day, I feel as though I am forcing my child to be hugged, forcing her to act in a normal way, so that one day it will become natural to her.  I have tried letting her discover these things on her own in a natural way, and she simply recedes into dysfunctional, unhappy, angry, child unable to communicate.  Her normal state of being is anger and anxiety about every stimulation from her environment.

The only time she functions in a relatively normal way is when she is away from me, in a highly structured activity such as a swimming lesson or a class with an expected routine.  Even then she needs special attention from the teacher as she is unable to follow the class independently.  Autistic children often crave almost constant attention from their primary caregiver, and it's exhausting because it doesn't matter how firm I am or how many times I redirect her activity, it never ends.  It is never satisfied.

I have read that around 7-8, these children mellow out a little bit and become more able to focus on their interests and studies rather than being bothered by things all the time.  That is my hope and my prayer, as I want to keep homeschooling her but I cannot allow her to drain me to the point that I cannot parent my other children as well.


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