Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thinking makes my brain hurt.

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.


Casdok said...

I think its great that you are trying to prepair him in such a positive manner!

Pickel said...

Why did I not know that?
I'll eat cake with you. I love a good party, especially on a gotcha day. :)

Marla said...

Very good! I think you are doing an amazing job starting out positive and in little bursts. I do think the comparison to how you learned about being adopted is excellent. We have always told M she was adopted and make a big deal out of telling her the adoption story often. Because it is very special to us. Autism has been a bit harder since a diagnosis was so hard for us to get and her diagnosis is kinda complicated with the chromosome disorder. But, you are so right that they have every right to know and to understand. Jerry just did a post you should check out along the same lines.
It is very cute.

dgibbs said...

LMAO "Surprise...Your Autistic!"

I could go for some cake!

Great job with Jaysen and putting Autism in a positive light.

Megs said...

Your party idea had me LOL. We too point out the positive traits of Fin's talents resulting from heightened awareness. I'm in for the cake!

Peepa said...

Peepa's & Moppi's love caake too !

Hey, did you say you're adopted? Geez!

misha_k said...

I love that you're talking about autism with the positives. I've done that with J too. The "you are who you are" angle is the same one I use. It's great.

GFCF Mommy said...

I have been thinking about this too, my son is 5. He is not only autistic, but also adopted. We've been trying to introduce the adoption idea for about a year, but he really doesn't understand. I figure we'll just keep trying and when he is ready, he'll ask questions and eventually understand. We do have an "adoption day party" to celebrate his becoming part of our family, kind of like a birthday party, so I like your "free to you who you are" autism party idea.

Thanks for sharing this.

Val said...

The Discovery of "Aspie" Criteria - check it out:

Top Ten Terrific Traits of Autistic People:

Our Names Are Autism Too:

(this one is good for showing what people can do)

Benefits of Asperger's Syndrome:

mommy~dearest said...

Wow- thanks for all the information! "Aspie" stuff doesn't usually relate to Jaysen, but I'm going right now to check it all out!