Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Living with Autism

While I personally don't have autism I live with it every day.  My 2 favorite guys both have Asperger's.  It occurred to me that as a mommy blogger I have never discussed it from my perspective.
I'm far from neurotypical myself, I have GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and test atypical but not on the Autism spectrum.  Ben was diagnosed with Asperger's in 1998 when he was 23 and while him having the same diagnosis as Garrett is helpful we don't know how Ben dealt with it as a child  or even if it was noticed.

"Some researchers have argued that AS can be viewed as a different cognitive style, not a disorder or a disability"
I tend to look at Garrett in the same light and by reminding myself that he has a different cognitive style I can more easily understand him and the choices he makes.  Things that may seem simple to other children such as coloring are a little different for Garrett.  He won't draw on paper with things on it already.  He doesn't draw on the kids menus at places we eat and gets frustrated and angry and will throw both the crayons and the paper.  However if he has a blank piece of paper he will sit and scribble happily.
I had to take a step back and look at this in a very structured and logical way and then it hit me...he doesn't want to draw on a paper that someone has already marked.  It's already occurred to him that he isn't supposed to color over other things.  Much like you'd keep a child from coloring on a book (a non-coloring book) he already gets that.  It may end up being more of a challenge teaching him there are certain places he is allowed to color but we'll cross that hurdle when we get to it.

I'm a very emotional person, I have lots of different moods and I'm very expressive.  Ben describes himself as binary.  He's either on or off and it's like someone flips a switch.  It can be rough on me when he seems to go from being fine to being frustrated in the blink of an eye. I do remind myself that I have to tell both of us to take a deep breath so we don't end up getting angry with each other over a misunderstanding.  I see some of these habits with Garrett, like when he wants a snack he is fine and then melts down.  There is some progress since we have been showing him pictures.

We're lucky that we've gotten Garrett in to Early Intervention and he's made such great strides.  They work with us and him to help him.
Sometimes it is frustrating when other parents say "Why don't you do x,y or z?"   Well, because my son doesn't think like "normal" children.  His brain works differently and so we are working with him instead of forcing him to just do it our way.  The truth is people with Asperger's are usually highly successful individuals.  Ben and I don't look at this diagnosis as a bad thing, just as something different.  And being different is ok.

1 comment:

Jesse Weinstock said...

:) make perfect sense to me.