Behind the Autism Statistics – Soci-Able

The month has gotten away from me before I could finish all my Autism Factiods! 😦

I guess I’ll just have to extend it into a different month!

rob-eyesFor today, Fact #3:

“Children with autism don’t know how to play interactively with other children… Autism is a spectrum disorder. This means the symptoms and personality traits may vary from moderate to serious depending on how severely the child has been affected. And, contrary to common perception, it is a social disorder, not a disease.

ASDs can impact a person’s functioning at different levels, from very mildly to severely. Many people with ASDs also have unusual ways of learning, paying attention, and reacting to different sensations. There is usually nothing about how a person with an ASD looks that sets them apart from other people, but they may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most people.

They have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they can’t understand social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions, and don’t watch other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behavior.  They lack empathy.”

Social deficits are definitely one of the toughest problems facing autism spectrum kids. For Robert, that has proved to be the hardest thing to overcome and he still struggles with it on a daily basis. Daily. bday-boy4th

One of the first “big breakthroughs” I remember was when I came into our den to see what all the quiet was about. He was sitting with his little sister at a “tea table”, having pretend tea. PRETENDING to eat, drink, etc. Something as simple and “normal” as that scene moved me profoundly and gave me yet another piece of hope to add to the small, but growing, pile of possible.

adviceThey also said he wouldn’t have a sense of humor. Anybody who knows our family can appreciate how funny THAT is! As if he had a choice! He’s got a distinct, often slapstick type sense of humor and we love his laugh. One side of his mouth pulls into a half-grin and his eyes mischievously sparkle.

I remember once upon a time in Walmart, Robert was in the back of the buggy and he was screaming.  With his hands over his ears. He was maybe 4 at the time. In this case, it was simply sensory overload! Trying to hurry, I pushed him to the check out line, hoping not to get the line with the slowest cashier. As he continued to carry on, there was  a lady in the next aisle over. She had a boy about Robert’s age with her and they were both staring.

Shaking her head in disgust, she said in a loud enough voice for people around her to hear her “SOME people should learn to SPANK their kids more often!” Full of confidence in her obvious superior parenting skills, she added, “Then they wouldn’t misbehave so much, now would they?!”2004

I had SEVERAL different retorts come rushing to the forefront of my mind, each checked before leaving my mouth with my motto/mantra/sanity keeper “what good would come of THAT?”

Taking a deep breath and addressing the screaming child in my buggy who was painfully beyond my ability to comfort, I said in a soothing, yet loud voice, “SOME people should go home tonight and hit their knees thanking God for healthy children who don’t suffer from a neurological disorder that makes sounds and lights so painful they scream…isn’t that right, Honey?”

I often think it would be somewhat easier if Robert, as well as most ASD kids I know, didn’t look so “normal”. robngracieHell, most of them are downright adorable looking! If he had, say Down’s Syndrome,  in the same scenario, I doubt that woman would have felt compelled to offer a passive-aggressive lecture about lack of discipline causing him to scream. Taking the time to explain autism and that his outburst was directly related to his ability to process everything around him normally seemed a waste of time and breath. But I couldn’t completely let it pass without saying something in his defense! Progress, not perfection. 🙂 img_3515

He’s certainly tried!  Soccer…basketball…piano… currently electric pianomanguitar…soccer

all with varying success. Though truly amazingly talented at many “typical” activities for little boys, team sports don’t seem to suit him well, though the skills required, outside of social, he has in spades (he’s got some mad skills!).

To date, he still has a VERY difficult time “reading” others too. He doesn’t get subtlety or the typical playful banter teenagers, particularly boys, often communicate with. Interactions remain hard. Everything is very literal. If I sarcastically say something like, “That’s just GREAT…I didn’t REALLY want that picture” when he accidentally knocks over a frame and breaks it, he can’t tell that I’m actually upset. I just told him it was great and that I didn’t want the picture. The underlying hurt and anger don’t register. And that is a chasm I don’t have a clue how to bridge. I guess that will have to be one of the chapters written after its lived out.mylilman

One Response

  1. we could all do with a lot less judgment and a whole lot more knee work.
    Sounds like you hit that ladies curve ball deep into the cheap seats she lives in 🙂

    This is a super post = thanks for sharing the entire thing has a lovey feel.

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