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…autism bites…

I don’t talk about this too much, because almost all of the time, it doesn’t even influence our lives, but yesterday we had our first truly negative interaction with my son and a peer over his cognitive differences…

So apparently my son has been letting some of his friends know that he is “slightly autistic” (he got a little mixed up trying to explain high functioning autism – most of them already know he has ADHD) – he explained that his brain sees stuff more intensely than normal, and 99% of the kids he told either think it’s cool, or don’t care. Only one little meanie has said anything bad, and he is now determined to call my brave and brilliant son dumb and stupid. My son told me that one of his other friends offered to “fix it” for him… I am glad that his friends stand up for him, but I don’t want it to start any fights. He just couldn’t understand why anyone would say those things about anyone. I told him if he is being bullied, he needs to tell the school, whether it’s his teacher, or the principal, or an aide. He just doesn’t want anyone to be angry at him.

On the bright side, he has been a lot more affectionate lately – for a baby who never snuggled, and a kid who never hugged, having a little boy seek me out for a hug when he needs comfort is still pretty new and novel. I do think it’s interesting that it took him all day to process what happened to him at school – he came out to me from being in bed, a good hour past his bedtime, to discuss this. He gets mathematic concepts almost immediately, but takes him hours to ponder a single social interaction. But then again, that’s kind of the gist of the whole situation – he is so smart, but just doesn’t GET other kids. I still think it was easier when Asperger’s was a separate diagnosis than autism, because so many people think autism always means cognitive delays – but it really is a spectrum! I know so many kids with autism, and not a single one is exactly like another, but they all share common characteristics.

Anyhow, like I said before, most of the time I don’t talk about it, because I know that we are so very lucky. For most families, autism seems to be a life changing, devastating diagnosis. But for me, it was just an explanation for the weird quirks about my son. It wasn’t even until this last year that it was something the doctor even worried about(though it is something we have talked about since he was 2 or 3). With some kids, autism locks them away inside a world of confusion, but in our case, it just makes my son quirky and odd. So sometimes I feel like an interloper even mentioning it, like how dare I parade my gifted and almost “normal” kid around and talk about how hard it is to parent someone with his “disabilities”… Most of the time I don’t even feel like he has any disabilities, until we hit a wall with something (like when he was learning cursive, that was one of the most painful experiences, forcing him to sit and focus, but even that had more to do with his ADD than anything else). But my heart still aches for him when the bullies out there single him out, because he reacts so differently than the other kids. Other kids can ignore when a bully is being a twerp, but my son gets so confused, and he starts doing funny things with his voice or his hands, so of course they pick on him. He is also the smallest kid in his class, and one of the smartest, and I am sure he will eventually need glasses and braces. But he is also funny, and sweet, and kind – luckily he has friends who don’t care about his odd behaviors, and who want nothing more than to make my little guy smile.

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