Hyperactivity And The Apparent Inability To Sit Long Enough To Learn Anything...
The physical removing of oneself from an “offending situation”, a stressful situation where the “parts to the whole” were not understood was but another coping mechanism used by the autistic child.
This explained why pretty well all autistic children always seemed to be "running off" as parents chased after them in the hopes of teaching them or having them complete a task. I found Zachary not only "ran away", but when he removed himself physically from a stressful situation, he usually moved right to an activity that helped him in terms of providing an "order fix", a way in which he tried to bring order back to his world when it simply made no sense at all. "Order fixes" could take on many forms.
For example, Zachary often climbed on the couch from one end, walked across to the other end and then got off... or continued onto the next piece of furniture... moving from one end of it to the other. He would do the same thing as he climbed onto the kitchen table... he would go from one end to the other before he got off. Never would he "get off in the middle" of the piece of furniture – until he understood “middle” or “sides”. He had to "complete the task", much like he would "walk the line" on a street... he had to "follow" the furniture from one end to the other. If I was lying on the floor, Zachary tried to "walk the line" over my body, by starting at my feet, trying to physically walk over me, from my feet to past my head. When he first began to do this particular activity, I did not understand it... and of course, I always tried to "push him off" by the time he got to my neck, but, soon, I came to realize what he was doing... he was using me, too, as a way to physically get an "order fix"... he was again, "walking the line"... only in this case, the line was my body... from feet to head... and he kept starting over, going back to my feet if I pushed him off before he completed the task and actually made it past my neck and head!
For more on the issue of physical removal from offending situations, see the "Exercises I Do At Home"... exercises that so clearly showed me this issue with hyperactivity and physical removal... exercises with plastic eggs!
Hyperactivity was indeed another trait so characteristic of the autistic child. I do not doubt there are indeed some hyper children out there (i.e., children who may eat too much sugar, not have enough magnesium, etc.). However, I think that what we had for so long seen as "hyperactivity" was not “hyperactivity” but rather simply another coping mechanism in the autistic child... that of constantly, physically removing oneself or running away from sources of frustration. This explained why so many children were still "hyper" in spite of being given medications, magnesium, epsom salt baths/creams, and other supplements known to help with "hyperactivity". It was because this was not an issue of “hyperactivity” but rather one of a coping mechanism within the autistic child.
Thus, again the key to truly decreasing hyperactivity rested in removing areas of frustration in the child's life/environment by helping him to understand those things that, to him, just did not make sense. This theory explained the constant running away we saw in these children, the constant jumping, and the apparent inability to be able to sit down long enough to learn anything. If the child did not understand the parts to the whole for the teaching materials placed before him, there was no doubt in my mind that he would continue to "run away" in order to cope with the frustration resulting from what was being put before him.
The final thing I want to mention as it relates to "hyperactivity" was that, at times, it could truly be a physical issue for many reasons. These included lack of magnesium as well as issues with parasites (i.e., worms). The fact that autistic children engaged in numerous odd behaviors, such as licking, eating of sand, etc. made them very prone to parasite infections (see my first book where I explained how Zachary once ate an entire handful of sand, as I watched – in total shock and disbelief!). The fact that hookworms were often found in the brain of schizophrenics, considered by many to be the “adult form” of autism, made me all the more concerned about this potential link between “odd behaviors” of the autistic and parasitic infections. Parasites were a serious issue for all family members and I encouraged all parents to become informed in this area as well, for this too can make a significant difference in one's behavior. The cautionary word for parents here was that the medical community did not give this issue the attention it deserved. Most tests for parasites tested for only a very few types… and often, by the time the stool samples made it to a lab, the presence of parasites was “negative” because the eggs, etc., had died by the time the reached the lab (one of my sisters-in-law used to work in a medical lab and was the one who had mentioned that to me). As such, I cautioned parents to become informed on the issue of parasites (i.e., pinworms, roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, etc.) and to be very cautious of allowing their children to engage in those behaviors that made children prone to these infections.