Things get destroyed beyond imagination. And that destruction occurs in moments. Seconds. Fractions of seconds.

     Sammy, my son with autism, is extremely active. He is in constant motion. He is always jumping, climbing, running, dancing, etc. If he doesn’t have structure and supervision he causes mass destruction. He is big now, 7 years old, and so he has become much like having a wild bear or gorilla in the house. Things get destroyed beyond imagination. And that destruction occurs in moments. Seconds. Fractions of seconds.

   He does not sit still. His favorite pastimes are: shredding anything he can find that is shreddable (paper, cardboard, his sister’s homework, etc.) and climbing anything that is climbable (the doors, the cabinets, shelves, couches, TVs, tables chairs, the kitchen sink, the fridge, the counter, the toilet, the shower, the closets, etc.) and then jumping from and/or swinging on the thing that he just climbed.

     I’m pretty convinced that even if I removed every article of furniture from the house he would still find a way to climb all the way to the ceiling.

    And of course, when you climb and shred things all day, the best thing about that is that you can sprinkle confetti all over the house from the highest point in each room. So, a floor that has recently been cleaned can look like something out of that Febreze commercial in about 2 minutes flat.


I tried to find confetti videos on youtube to maybe help satisfy that visual stim – and he likes them – but they don’t really stop him from shredding things and making confetti in real life — this is one of his favorite videos at the moment:


   Cue the crazy, tired mama

        So I have a question for anyone who reads my ramblings. What do you suggest I do with Sam to help decrease the chaos and destruction at home?  He needs activities that are messy, full of movement, and confetti, and in a perfect world – activities that I can orchestrate easily, isolate to one room, and that will occupy him while I clean, cook, tend to my daughter – you know, the usual.

     We have some tried and true favorites, like trips to the park and swimming and painting and swinging. But I need new ideas. What he needs most is sensory input. He likes deep pressure and lots of movement and impact. He is always seeking proprioceptive and vestibular input. 🙂

We have a small playroom with a hammock swing and tv and padded floor and small trampoline. But he is pretty bored with it and always wants me to push him on the swing for hours on end. I need to find more activities that he can do by himself while I get other things done around the house. The way it is now, I clean one side of the house while he destroys the other side. Then we switch. And repeat….

   The other day I was cleaning the living room and Sam was in the laundry room smashing lightbulbs and licking the broken pieces. Yup. Licking them.  So I can’t clean while he is home, and I can’t clean while I work (obv) — so when do I clean? At midnight?

    He is non stop into everything. If I leave him in the bath he squirts the toothpaste into the tub. Or sticks his head in the toilet. Or covers himself in VapoRub. We have locks now on the cabinets so we can hide the stuff now and hopefully limit the destruction. I am thinking we need some sort of climbing structure in the playroom (which is small, approx 10ftx9ft) and some way for him to jump and get impact … 

Any suggestions are much appreciated. My brain doesn’t work well after years of sleep deprivation so maybe the solution in right in front of my face and I can’t see it. Well, I can hope anyway eh? 🙂


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jessica
    Mar 19, 2012 @ 23:51:35

    LOL I live in the same world as you my friend! I have an 8 yr old who is in constant motion an always breaking things or spilling things. I also have a 6 yr old who sounds just like your son but she doesn’t shred things,,..her thing is eating/licking everything in sight. Right now her favorite seems to be soap and deodorant, but it changes..ahhh such is life LOL are some things that have helped in my home. First I basically had to cave in and decided that we really couldn’t have a playroom per se…we now have a therapy house..all over the house…there just wasn’t enough space in one single room to contain everything I needed for them and in the end I decided that my sanity was more important than how my house looked.

    The best thing that works for both kids is without a doubt, the trampolines. I have a large one outside and a fairly large one inside too. The inside one is a bounce n learn that I got from Walmart. It is fairly safe because of it being enclosed but there is a risk of it tipping..I tried to keep that risk to a minimum by putting it near a wall on one side and then having a larger piece of furniture up against it on another side which helps stabilize the trampoline. Here is a link to it from the walmart site.
    I don’t know how large the trampoline you have now is but for my kiddos ..the larger one seems to give them better input. The inflatable bounce houses are good too..especially since you could get a larger one and then they can be deflated when you are not using them.

    As far as the climbing…I got them a climbing dome. I keep ours outside because it is pretty large. It is great for the kids to climb on and hang from and keeps them busy for a long time. Here is a link to that..also from walmart.
    If you decide to get the climbing dome walmart will match the price for you. I got it for 198 I think..that is the price that Home Depot was selling it for.

    Havng lots of bean bags are great for the kids to throw themselves into and also for me to toss them onto. The rule here is that it is ok to want to crash into something but it has to be an acceptable something..they can crash into the beanbags anytime they want. (I’d love to say it works perfectly but ah not so much..LOL they still crash into other things also but it at least has cut it down some.) Thin twin mattresses and the cushions from the outside type lounge chairs work good for crashing into also…I have found that using couch cushions don’t work so well because they are smaller and not as flexible as the bean bags and when the kids would take them off the couch to jump on them they would basically just shoot out from under the weight of the kid and then my kids would be wailing because they landed on the floor instead of the cushion. (um you’d think they would learn right?? haha)

    My daughter (who is much like your son) absolutely loves laying down on a skateboard and rolling herself through the house…especially on the tiled sections. She also really likes roller skating through the house

    have you tried a pogo stick? My younger one can’t balance on it but the 8 yr old loves it.

    This Giga ball has also been a thing that has kept them both busy for hours. We mostly use it outside but sometimes I use it inside with them even though it is BIG ..They like to crawl in it, lay in it, jump on it. push it, roll it pull it..etc You do have to be careful if more than one kid is using it though since it is easy to fall out of the opening in the ball and if another kid is pushing it then the child who is half in and half out of the ball could get hurt. But we have had it for 5 months and had up to 4 kids playing on it and they all have had a blast and no one has gotten hurt..but I can see the potential for it so I wanted to mention that part about it. Here is a link to it from target.|10908813&CPNG=toys&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=10908813

    I use a big rubbermaid type bin that I fill with different things for them, It is big enough for them to sit in it one at a time. I have filled it with dried beans, rice, sand (um..not my best idea!!) shredded paper from my paper shredder, ice cubes ( my daughter loves cold things and to sit in the fridge..silly monkey!) chocolate pudding and jello. That is a good thing for doing inside and keeps them busy while I am trying to do other things. The beans are a little tricky since I was worried my daughter would mouth them but she actually didn’t which surprised me. The chocolate pudding was a HUGE hit and I didn’t have to worry about anything (except a mess) but it wasn’t too bad. You can put a few cheap flannel backed tablecloths under the bin which cuts down on the mess. If you have a screened in patio you could put it on there but I usually do it in the kitchen while I am trying to cook or clean in that room just so I can make sure no one goes dashing through the house while covered in chocolate pudding!

    as far as the shredding things..I don’t have experience with that but maybe if you had the enclosed trampoline inside then you would give him things to shred in the trampoline and then when he jumped the papers would bounce around..or maybe even put a fan near the trampoline so it would blow the papers around while he was in there.

    Anyway..maybe some of these things will help. I know some are for outside but even so, by using those outside items it helps decrease some of the climbing and jumping behaviors inside. 🙂


  2. jessica
    Mar 20, 2012 @ 00:05:23

    oops..forgot one more thing we use inside. I hung those triangle type bar things that you usually see on swingsets that the kids can hang from and swing on. sometimes they look like rings instead of the triangles but mine are triangular. it kind of looks like the ones at this link

    except mine are 2 separate things..they are not attached by a bar.

    And also for the climbing since he likes to climb up high, you could try to build some sort of climbing thing up the little wooden steps (pieces of wood that are attached to the wall) where he could climb up the wall using the steps. Or you could even put the hand grip things on the wall for him to use. here is a link to show what I am talking about…
    I have never purchased these or bought from this company but this gives you an idea what I am talking about at least.


    • Super Mom Jess
      Mar 20, 2012 @ 22:39:12

      WOW!! SO many great ideas!! Thank you so much. I am definitely going to try all of these. I had the same idea of attaching boards to the wall for him to climb on and jump from, then I thought it would be cool to have a cubby he can hide in up high because he loves small spaces and being up high. Then I saw this: – it is pretty much exactly what I had pictured in my head.
      Maybe I should try to design my own – the autismwall :p
      Thanks so much for reading and commenting – and thanks again for all of the great suggestions 🙂
      — Jess


    • Super Mom Jess
      Mar 20, 2012 @ 22:55:47

      Oh and I also caved in long ago and realized my house was going to be the “house that autism built” (I even wrote a blog post about it :p) When I say I want it ideally isolated to one room, I just mean so I can keep an eye on him and wont have to chase him all over the house, as usual. I have a broken big toe right now and my foot is killing me – and of course I am totally unable to rest it with Sam to chase after. Today I locked him in his room with some paint for a few while I rested my foot and I when I returned he was covered in poop. Of course. Fun times 🙂


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March 2012
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