We are in the part of our process of acceptance where we are ascertaining what is and isn't our son's highest need. We never wanted him to feel like he had to change who he is and we still don't.
This short piece was one of the first things I saw this morning.
I am learning that there is a huge rift in the autism community. Autism Speaks has a mixed reputation and many families are adamantly against AS because they are big proponents of ABA - Applied Behavior Analysis, which many find abusive while others claim it is critical to arm their kids with the skills to function in this world.
Our unique position in this is that the testing psychologist does not feel that E would benefit from ABA. It's really geared to more basic life skill behaviors she said and since E is level one (& almost 14), he has attained many of those.
(Here's a little primer on level one/mild/high functioning/Aspergers)
Yet still, we are faced with this dilemma - every single one of us must choose how much we WANT to fit in with the masses. I spent a VERY large part of my twenties observing others. I now know that my desire for acting and writing came from a desire to stretch and grow and heal...I was DESPERATE to understand relationships, having had so few strong ones of my own. So I studied people...I still do. I'm still very "behind" in terms of interpersonal relationships. As a labeled "gifted," I have always had a similar lag...academic intelligence was beyond my social maturity level.
I have made choices to walk away from certain ways of being that did not feel right for me and I suspect I will do that a few more times before it's done. I was able to choose to learn awareness about my own patterns of behavior, say, concerning appropriate eye-contact. As a result of healing from my personal trauma experiences, I noticed my deficits. Perhaps I have a sufficient number of mirror neurons so that this ability is attainable.
Here is another video that explains the now out-dated term of Aspergers...Tony Attwood has always sounded true to me, and I am able to find myself in Evan's characteristics. My situation as best I know it is a diagnosed "gifted" with no psychoeducational evaluation paperwork, though a memory of the testing accompanied with the answer of "I don't remember" when asked about IQ. Instead of appearing as though I was emotionless, I know I have always presented as a crier, thus highly emotional. My analysis is that this was where my giftedness lie, not necessarily in academic intelligence.
My wish is that we can help Evan arrive at a place where he has some of those same CHOICES. Even when I am choosing to not act in certain ways, I feel the separation...the "other"-ness, so I always want him to have what he needs to bounce back from that feeling of being excluded - of feeling different. I understand also that feeling excluded and actually BEING excluded are not the same, but perception is critical. I am sure that if my perception is deemed to be "off" by others that he will struggle in that area as well.
If he does perceive himself being excluded, at minimum, my wish is that he be okay with that and simply acknowledge that not everyone will be part of his "tribe." We are not a family that aspires to the "norm" to begin with (been there, done that, have the financials to prove it), but being "different" is really tough in this world. Even when the difference itself (say, extreme beauty or academic intelligence) is highly prized.
People like to be around people who are like them...who make them feel good. We work hard and when we have free time, we want to rest. E (and other kids like him) don't really have a setting for "go with the flow" and even when he is included, I can FEEL the resistance and resentment when he goes off-script.
Maybe I feel it on his behalf because he cannot (yet?!), but it's heartbreaking to observe. We need more flexible molds. They are beginning to make them...
Yesterday in the car (where all the BEST teenaged intel is revealed), Lucas's friend described their classmate as having autism but being cool. E piped in, after half-hearing and still without official word of his own diagnosis, but with the knowledge that his ADHD is part of it, "Are you on the spectrum?"
The friend replied, "not lately."
I simply LOVE that answer.
And I know our path because of it.
We will work to help Evan learn behaviors that will help him stay below the radar when critical, but mostly, I believe we'll teach him to stay strong and find those with flexible molds.
After all, don't we always teach what we most need to learn? That's what I've always heard.