About a month ago, I began yet another attempt of Autism awareness...this time, with Jaysen.
I am adopted. I've always known I'm adopted. I don't ever remember specifically being told I was adopted- it was just a natural part of life. I had blond hair, blue eyes, was adopted, had a sister... it was just part of me. This is what I was kind of aiming for with Jaysen.
I started out by asking him if he knew what Autism was. After about three times of me repeating the question, he finally responded,
"What is it, Mommy?"
"Well, it's one part of you that makes up you who you are."
"Like really happy?"
"Yes, Autism can make you really really happy (I'm thinking about his excited-flapping or when he bounces off the walls). Let's see what else I can tell you about Autism. It can also make some things easy for you, and some things harder."
"Like reading. Autism helps you be the good reader that you are. Can you think of anything else?"
"Okay Mommy, stop talking now."
So I did. I figured I should leave it on a positive note.
A couple of days later, he was playing a Pac-Man video game and said, "I'm really good at this!"
So I jumped at the chance again, and said "Yes, you are. I think Autism has helped you practice (I was thinking along the lines of perseveration here), and all that practice, you've gotten really good at this game". He thought about that for a minute, then said, "Yeah."
My plan is to throw in a few more positive examples for him, then start balancing it out with some difficulties. I do not want to make it negative. I want him to understand that Autism has brought him gifts, but also will make him have to work harder at other things. I don't want him to see Autism as an obstacle, but more like a challenge.
I don't know if I want to go down the path of "you're different" or "you're special" because for one, isn't everybody? And on the other hand, I don't want him to feel he is set apart from society. I'm trying to take the angle of "you are who you are".
As it stands now, I wanted to familiarize him with at least the word. If he has a word to associate with, maybe he won't be afraid of it when it starts to click. The kids at school all know what it is, he should too. I don't think he is ready to grasp the concept of Autism, or even relating it to himself. That's fine for right now. I want him to take it all in at his own pace. It's difficult because he doesn't see himself as different from the other kids, and he doesn't ask questions. If I bring up his tapes as an example, he feels badly because he thinks I'm belittling the tapes. I really haven't found a concrete way of relating it directly to him yet.
I could always throw him a "Surprise...You're Autistic!" party. Okay, maybe not.
Damn...I really wanted some cake.