Thursday, May 29, 2014

Just enough to make a mother worry

Yesterday was an excellent communication day. Ryan initiated baking muffins with me, and even engaged Stu in a long game (it involved chasing each other around the house and Stu shooting foam balls at Ryan) without the game dissolving into tears.

I can tell what kind of day it will be from the moment Ryan wakes me up. If he runs into my room shrieking "I can not FIND ___," it's going to be a day of wailing and gnashing of teeth. If he leaves me alone past 6:30am and just plays in his room, the rest of the day will likely be interactive, like yesterday.

Knowing this was a good day, Stu pressed Ryan for details on how he had skinned his knee at school. Ryan readily revealed he had fallen down while running at recess. After a few follow-up questions, we learned he had been running away from Joe. He made it clear that he and Joe were not playing tag: Ryan was "running away from Joe" because "he's pretty mean."

We were not able to extract from Ryan what "mean" thing Joe had done or said. My understanding had been that Joe is Ryan's buddy in his inclusion class - that Joe is usually looking out for Ryan and helping him be part of the group. It's possible that Joe thought he was playing and Ryan saw things differently. It's possible Joe has come to see Ryan as a social liability and felt the need to do something "mean" to bolster his own status. I can imagine many scenarios that may have played out at recess.

Unfortunately I can really only imagine. Ryan gave me just enough information to make me worry, not enough information to figure out what really happened.



Monday, May 26, 2014

#NotAllAutistics

The #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter is positive, important, and true. Yes, ALL women experience harassment, assumptions of inferiority, belittlement by society.

The #NotAllMen response misses the point. Saying that all women - yes, ALL women - have negative experiences with men does not imply that ALL men are to blame. A man saying "your problem is not MY fault" diminishes the true experience of the women making the complaints; and then he does, indeed, BECOME part of the problem.

In thinking about this weekend's drive-by shooting spree in Santa Barbara, committed by a disturbed young man with tremendous psychological problems and an inflated sense of entitlement, I fear that when people read that he was on the autism spectrum, some might jump to the conclusion that ALL autistics are ticking time bombs, ready to explode in violence.

There's a big difference between a man saying "not ALL of us are like that" and a non-autistic person saying "ALL autistic people are like that;" the former is self-identification, the latter is bigotry.

While the nation has this important conversation about women's right to be human, I pray that this psycho's autism not make life harder for anyone else on the spectrum to be taken seriously or treated with dignity and respect.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

NT Girls are Easy!

On Monday I had the pleasure of babysitting my friend's delightful 4-year-old daughter, and I learned some striking things about neurotypical children:

1) They're interactive. Little D and I had conversations all day. Like, I would ask her what she wanted to play with and she would tell me. Even more excitingly, she would say my name to get my attention (I totally melted at the way she called me "Miss Meredith" in her adorable little 4-year-old voice) and then ask me questions. Getting information out of Ryan, as you know, takes quite a bit more work; and he feels no need to get my attention - he just shouts demands into the air.

2) They want to help. The helping might make more work for you, but they're so interested in what you're doing they want to do it, too. Little D was watering my plants, putting my groceries on the conveyor belt, cutting my fabric, and even stepping on my sewing machine pedal for me, and she was psyched to do it. Ryan might humor me for a moment if I ask him to, say, help me cut fabric, but will soon wander off with my scissors before the job is done and proceed to cut everything except the scraps I've given to him for that express purpose.

3) They follow a kind of logic I understand. Since Ryan and I have radically different brain wirings, my days are full of interpretation and decoding and conscientious planning several steps ahead. Little D and I, on the other hand, think in the same language, so our interaction does not require constant translation from Autistic to NT and back again.

Yes, kids are always on their best behavior when their parents aren't around, but this glimpse into the world of raising a neurotypical child was eye-opening. I wouldn't trade my baby for anything, but having a whole day every once in a while in which I didn't feel like a foreign exchange student in my own home would be pretty sweet.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

My ears are bleeding...

If I had to describe Ryan in one word, it would be "sweet."

If I had to describe him two words, they would be "sweet" and "loud."

I do not understand how a body so small can generate noise of such volume and duration.

Aside from the objects that are constantly crashing in his wake, the noises include an endless variety of screams, shrieks, complaints, grunts, tics, scripts, and requests. Yesterday during a long car ride, we got tired of asking him to be quieter, so I offered him $1 if he could stay quiet for a whole minute; despite multiple attempts I still have my dollar.

The only way to get silence is to ask him a question.