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.