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On Autism–Part 2

So, to recap, my children are unique and struggle uniquely, but they are wonderful, as well. Here are some of the reasons why:

Conversations with my son. Now, this is a child who never made the expected “babbling” sounds; all developmentally on-track babies make noises like “ma” and “da” and “ba” by the time they’re around 9 months old. (My daughter, who’s the “more” autistic of my kids, would actually pitch-match, at that age–I’d sing a note, she’d sing it back, we could do 3-4 notes in a row. Anyway, I digress.) My son was nearly 3 before we heard him do anything other than laugh or cry, and he started using words after his 3rd birthday (and at first, every word he knew was a number). Now, he’s nearly 6, and what a difference a couple of years makes. One of this week’s highlights:

Gabriel: “Oh! It’s a poopies. That’s okay. Ah! It’s stuck! Help!” this afternoon, after requesting his nappy (diaper).
Me: “Oh, is it an ouch? It will help if you drink more juice. Would you like some?”
Gabriel: “No, thank you.” (He’s a stickler for the niceties.)
Me: “Are you sure? Drinking the juice will make the poopies soft, so they won’t get stuck.”
Gabriel: “No. Finished.” As he sits down, evidently much more comfortable.

It’s in my best interests to just give him the nappy, to be fair–when I don’t, he shares his displeasure (and spurting wee-wees) with the world. When I do, I get conversations like the above.

Another wonderful thing about my kids is… uh, conversations with my daughter, actually. And just her sense of humour, really. Again, this is a child who had about 10 words and phrases when she was a year old, who lost them one by one (the worst 18 months or so of my life, probably) and then slowly gained them all back, and more. She’s less proficient with language than her little brother, but even so, she’s a lot of fun. An example from last night:

Naomi: “Naomi is a fish!”
Me: “Naomi is NOT a fish. Naomi is a girl.” And I make it into a little song, because Naomi loves music.
Naomi, laughing hysterically: “Naomi is fish fish fish fish!”
Me: “Naomi is not a fish, Naomi is not a fish, Naomi is a girl, Naomi is not a fish!” still singing.
Naomi, red in the face from laughing so much, changes tactics. Setting her hand on my knee, she goes: “This one’s Naomi and Gabriel’s leg!”
Me: “That is NOT Naomi and Gabriel’s leg–that’s my leg! Mommy’s leg!”
Naomi, pointing at herself, giggling like a fiend: “THIS one is Mommy.”

And the game continues. Just for the record, she’s also the sort of person who’ll move your belongings while you’re not looking, and watch you out of the corner of her eye, giggling maniacally, as you search for them.

Another thing I’ve noticed about my kids is the… longevity? continuity?… of their personalities. My daughter is not, and never has been, one to get hysterical over minor injuries. If she falls down (flat on her face, in a way to leave numerous dark bruises) she’ll go, “Oww!” in a sort of annoyed grunt, and then she gets up and goes back to whatever she was doing. She’s much the same over routine changes (somewhat surprisingly)–if we tell her we’re going somewhere, she just shrugs, grabs her boots, and heads to the front door. Stoic, that’s what Naomi is… but surprisingly tender-hearted, as well. Falling and smashing her nose open might not make her cry, but if I raise my voice at her, I’d better be prepared to put her on my lap and cuddle her until she stops weeping… which is actually rather nice.

My son is phenomenally cheery, even when bad things happen. If he has to do something he doesn’t like, chances are, he makes it into a game and just starts laughing over it. Case in point, as I type this, Naomi’s taken a toy from him, and she’s holding it out of his reach. He’s annoyed, I can see it on his face, but he can’t help but laugh a little, as well. Getting up to retrieve his toy for him, I step on his foot and kinda kick the back of it, and I can tell it hurts him a little, and he just goes, “Oh, whoops!” and kinda grins at me, because he knows he’s right–I’m just clumsy. Sometimes when things like that happen, he tells me, “That’s okay, it was an accident!” and when I kiss him better, his response is usually, “Aww, thank
you, Mummy.”

I’m telling you, they are the best kids I’ve ever met; and if they’re a representative sample of autism, well, I vote for more autistic kids in the world 😉 I cannot think of 2 people I’d rather spend time with, than my little lovelies–and woe betide you, if you should say something about what a tragedy autism is, in front of me. Many an online commenter has had me rip them a new one over that, and rightly so–life is largely what you make of it, and when life gives you apples when it’s giving other people oranges, well damn. Just make a pie, instead of wishing you had orange juice.

The pie might take more work, but it’s just as nice as the orange juice, in the end.

And if that rather convoluted analogy didn’t make sense to you, just take this away with you–my kids are fruits. The sweetest fruits of my life so far.

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6 thoughts on “On Autism–Part 2

  1. I applaud you on this. Granted some cases of autism are more severe than others, huge strides are made every day in the way that autistic children are interpreted, obviously leading to a better understanding of how they learn.
    Temple Grandin just being one example of the ignorance in the way that documentaries, the media and the field of psychiatry portray so many children with autism.
    That they will never speak, that it is essentially a “life sentence” for the parents of a child with autism because they will never be able to function properly.
    I studied it extensively for a research paper when I was in University, and it was almost entirely a doom and gloom outlook.
    Yet, the same kids that would never speak, never function, are as well functioning as most of their peers.

    If someone doesn’t learn the way others do in the education system, they get brushed off.
    I truly believe that Autistic children simply have a different perspective and view than others, and all it takes is figuring out in what way they learn individually… Instead of assuming they simply can’t or won’t.

  2. Hey, thanks 🙂

    You’re right to mention that some cases are more severe than others; that really does make a difference, from what I’ve seen. My daughter’s one of the ones that other parents (of autistic kids) used to look at, and I’d see the “oh thank God my kid’s not like that” in their eyes. You’re equally right re: how much autistic folks can achieve; my girl (barely 8 years old) is already doing more than many professionals told me she would ever accomplish. I think most people (“neurotypical” or on the spectrum) can achieve more than they realize… the secret is in just chipping away at people’s misconceptions, and hoping that I can change enough of the world, just enough, so that my kids have a fair shot at life.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this, and for offering words of support. I’m doing a module on autism during the next academic year (if I sign up for it, anyway) and I’m pretty sure I’ll need reminders that the professionals are wrong, A LOT, on this particular subject. Of course, I do have my kids/myself/my numerous other friends and family members, to remind me 🙂

    –AmandaQuirky

    • You’re welcome! I talk about them all the time, and all I ever hope for is that as I describe them (perhaps in more detail than they’ll one day appreciate) I make sure to convey how very much I love them 🙂

      • You most certainly do show your love for them through your writing. Whether or not they some day appreciate it, that’s a different story altogether. I have a teen who does not like me to write about him. If I even so much as post a picture of our dogs, he claims that I am exploiting them for my blog. He’s such an advocate for privacy rights!

  3. Lol (literally, you have made me laugh out loud, I am making audible sounds of mirth) he sounds like a character. I’ve wanted to ask you about him before, actually (you’ve made reference to your son and husband being very private people) but I will continue to refrain; it’s hard enough not to write about your family, I can only imagine it’s worse if someone outright asks!

    From the little you have said, though, he sounds very bright, conscientious, perhaps not the most even-tempered person on the planet, strong-willed in the best sense of the term, and the sort of person who sees through to the heart of the matter. You must be so proud of him 🙂

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