It isn’t the end of the world

You gotta laugh sometimes.
My youngest is in college pursuing a childhood development degree, with emphasis on special ed. and special needs kids, particularly autism.  I was both surprised and pleased last fall to hear this, and listened to her telling me all kinds of things she was learning in class.  I couldn’t help interrupting a little to ask questions, because she was being taught a very typical curriculum of specific symptoms, reactions, treatments, and behavioral programs.  I have a sociology degree and have been trained in assessment, stats, testing, etc, so I’m familiar with the ‘lingo’ that separates the academic departments.  She was being taught nothing about the disorder as a *spectrum*.  And being young and learning new things, she typically thinks she’s got the goods on this new knowledge.

Is she asking ME anything?  No. 

Granted, we’ve learned about my Asperger’s rather recently, but she has the benefit of being raised by an ASD stepmom (full time, we had custody).  She doesn’t see it now, but I believe part of her instinctual draw and easy relating to autistic kids is because she’s been around me since she was two years old.  And I believe I was able to help her with her fetal alcohol syndrome and severe ADHD growing up because I myself am ‘different’ and learned the hard way from my own mother that ‘fixing’ and standardizing do more harm than good.

I have been seeing a chiropractor off and on for a spinal injury since last summer.  I sit in the waiting room rocking in the chair, staring up at the lights, rubbing my fingers on the chair arms and wall behind me, sometimes I sit on my hands.  As far as I’ve noticed, I am the only person I’ve ever seen in that waiting room who stares up and does things like that.  I do it because it’s relaxing, and I could care less what people think of me.  There is a young lady who escorts patients to the rooms with a chart and assesses their progress and pain levels.  During a particularly bad week last fall I was not able to participate in strength training, she said something and I said Well, it’s the Asperger’s, and she laughed and said You don’t have Asperger’s, you can look me in the eye.  I stopped dead still, looked her in the eye, and said I’m 46.  I *learned*.
The greatest disservice the media does for Autism Spectrum Disorders is boil ‘symptoms’ down to a tiny little list of criteria.  It’s easy for anyone out there in Joe Public to diagnose autism now.
Maybe I should type this very s-l-o-w-l-y so people can understand.  We are *all around* you.

You wanna see some cool autistic people?  Click these links.

I don’t know how much more succinctly this can be said.  Autism isn’t the end of the world.

Who do you think is on the Spectrum?

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0 thoughts on “It isn’t the end of the world

  • June 7, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    my brother has Asperger’s and ADHD. I’ve grown up around it my entire life and had to deal with the stress that comes from it. It’s never affected the way I view my brother though, he’s an amazing individual and not many (normal, non specialist type) people are able to tell he has anything “wrong” with him.

    I don’t have any speculations on who has or is on the spectrum though :-p

  • June 6, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Unfortunately most college classes just touch upon ASP and any other MD that is beyond mild.  I am taking classes for my masters in spec ed and I had to laugh because they are requiring me to take an intro to special needs.  The education of our special education teachers is sorely neglected.

  • June 6, 2009 at 9:04 am


    This is the thing…even very severely autistic people can be “trained” and learn how to behave like NT’s with the proper motivation. But when we work to modify only behavior, we are missing the point. Really high-functioning autists might not stand out in a crowd, because they aren’t stupid—they learn what gets them approval and adapt their own behavior. But the work of trying to behave like everyone around them in order to be accepted is exhausting. At least a little bird told me so…

  • June 5, 2009 at 4:50 am

    oh its hard to understand this, it may sound easy in theory. but to work with patients and well its a learning process, like a doctor learns more from each patient, he has more experience.

  • June 4, 2009 at 7:59 am

    @DrugInducedDuck@xanga – Perzackly on the it’s ok to be different thing.  But when I really needed the help as a young child, it was not available to me because back then there was no spectrum, only black and white nonverbal autism.  I was right on the edge of that, with many of the symptoms.  I’m one of the lucky ones, and there but for the grace of God go I.  Unless you’ve been there, you don’t know.  But I do thank you for supporting that it’s ok for people to be different, because I was punished for it my entire childhood.  By punished, I mean physically beaten.  Back then that was how you made kids behave normally and hide who they really were.  I’ve cared for a nonverbal autistic girl, related to her very well, possibly because I had been on the edge of where she was.  I advocate loving the child first, before any other determination to fix.  People can’t help being born the way they are.  I was never forgiven for that.

  • June 4, 2009 at 4:57 am

    That’s because there is no real spectrum and it makes a joke out of people who actually have autism. People are different, being different is not a mental disorder, you don’t need a label.

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