Saturday, February 22, 2014

Autism: "Doobee Or Not Doobee?" - And Never The Twain Shall Meet

Autism:  "Doobee Or Not Doobee?" - And Never The Twain Shall Meet

My sister in law called me the other day with a question.  As the mom of two neurotypical teenage boys, she faces her own unique set of challenges, totally dissimilar to mine, as I am an autism mom.

The situation was a friend of her eldest son had advertised himself as "smoking pot".  Whether or not this was actually true remains to be proved, however she was perplexed as to what to instruct her son to do regarding continuing to "hang out" with this other teenager.

She posed the question to me asking what would I do if I found that one of my son's friends was using drugs.  Now, remember my son is 16 also but has autism.

So, I admit when she first posed the question my mouth was open but nothing came out.  I didn't have an answer for her.  I knew she wasn't dwelling on the fact that Joey has autism and the likelihood of one of his friends smoking pot, though not  impossible, is highly unlikely.  

While this is not necessarily a situation in a young life worth celebrating, I was left with that tugging feeling, knowing that this is just one more problem that I as an autism mom, will probably NOT encounter.  

We ended the text conversation and I was left staring at the mental image of that list that  some autism moms know all too well.  The "things my kid will probably never do" list. 

Things like:

Worrying about getting driver's license
Not having enough money to buy his own car
Being upset about finding a date for the prom
Not making the track, football or basketball team 
Deciding what college to apply to 
Having a girlfriend and getting dumped by that girlfriend

I thought of the two young men, my son and my nephew.  I thought of the dichotomy between a neurotypical teenager and one with autism.  Both approximately the same age but living in two different worlds.  

Is my son,  in a way, better off that he will not have to deal  with some of these normal passages into adulthood?  Is his innocence to his betterment?  Is worrying about missing a "Finding Nemo " VHS tape less stressful than worrying about "finding a job"?

Or is it me?  My Mom used to say " you can't miss what you never had".  Perhaps my son will not feel the loss of some of these average teenage experiences.   But I will feel the loss.  I must stop imposing my perception of what his life should be compared to other teens.   I must let him live his own life on his own terms.   The two young adults are not the same and never will be...and never the twain shall meet.

Oh, East is 
East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face,
tho' they come from the ends of the earth!
by: Rudyard Kipling

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Autism: Play Nice

Autism:  Play Nice!

When teaching our children, neuro typical or children with autism, what are the things we stress when it comes to dealing with others?


Simple everyday rules and guidelines such as these are the mindset we try to impart to our children.  Children on the autism spectrum struggle with these concepts more than other children. The interpretation of these words may be obvious to us but not as easy to decipher if you are a child on the spectrum. We as adults are charged with explaining the meaning of these phrases to them and  giving examples of how to implement them in their daily lives. 

I believe it's called: SOCIAL SKILLS.

So why then why do I see grown adults, most of them not on the spectrum totally ignoring these rules?  And to make it worse, these are folks in the autism community.  Lately I've seen family members of persons on the spectrum, reduced to tears over the rude, hurtful, bullying comments made by others.  

We are all on the same team so where is the concept of "play fair" amongst us?  

As we all communicate in the hopes of providing each other knowledge and support, can we not remember that "we all have our own way of doing things?"  If you do not agree with a parent with regard to a treatment, medicine or behavioral approach, by all means say so, but be constructive, not destructive. 

Every parent has their own vision for their child.  You do not live in their house, you do not know their child as they do. Of course I've seen parents talk about treatments or procedures that they use in the hopes of helping their child that I, myself, would never dream of trying.  But that's "MY" opinion.  And you know what they say about "opinions".  

So as you hit the "playground" of life tomorrow be kind to your friends.  It's about "winning" for each family member not "winning" the argument.  It's about giving the "high five", not pointing the finger.  It's not "popular" vs. "unpopular" team and it's certainly not