Completely uninterested, thank you very much.

March 7, 2011 at 7:06 am 12 comments

     We’ve been waiting for it for years. Contemplating it, wondering how it would go, and thinking about the end result. Would it be awkward? Would we all be embarrassed? Would we leave something out and C would misunderstand? Would we convey the most helpful possible message to C in the hopes that he would navigate his future armed with the necessary information to be successful?

     No, I’m not talking about the SEX talk. I’m talking about an equally important talk – the one where you tell your child he has a diagnosis. It’s something parents agonize about, plan for, and worry over. If you watch Parenthood, as we do, you watched Max’s parents absolutely botch their first attempt to explain Max’s autism to him. It was beyond bad. Our experience, however was the complete opposite. It was the most anticlimactic, non-event you could possibly imagine.

     We kind of pushed ourselves into having the discussion simply because we were afraid C would hear it somewhere else, a la Parenthood (where Max hears it brought up during a family fight), although hopefully not in such a dramatic fashion. We are an open book; C’s friends’ parents know, the neighbors know, random people at the park know. Doctors, teachers, the people at church. It was time, but we knew C wasn’t ready.

     You see, this child of ours is perhaps the least introspective person on the planet. It’s charming, at times, how unaware of himself – his actions, and the effect of those actions on others – C actually is. He is convinced the whole world loves him, and while he is incorrect in that assumption, his delightful unawareness means C is enthusiastic without care about what others think. There is no soul more uninhibited than C’s. He takes joy in the most mundane things and shows no qualms about sharing that joy, regardless of the consequences. Oh, yes, we’ve tried to redirect, calm, and make appropriate those happy outbursts, but there is no squelching it – social appropriateness be damned. C has no care, nor does he seem to understand, that he is often acting against the norm.

     C has his moments; he worries about not wearing a belt to school (despite having permission to not wear one) because the other kids will notice he is out of uniform. He worries about wearing a necklace to chew on because he worries no one else does that. But that’s as far as it goes. Someone doesn’t like him? No way, no how. He won’t hear of it. Impossible. C is not in denial, but rather he is just complete and utterly unaware.

     So what does one do with a child so clueless about his own special differences? You point them out, of course, gently. Remember, C, how difficult it was for you to learn to ride a bike? How much you struggle with handwriting? How much you hate it when a loud noise surprises you? “Yes, yes, and yes,” he said. And you know how awesome you are at math? How amazing your memory is? How much you like to learn each and every possible piece of information about each and every Pokemon? “Yes, yes, and yes.”

     That’s autism, C. That’s what makes you so special.

     “Okay. Can I go outside now?”

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Entry filed under: autism. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

What’s it going to take? You say Levicious, I say Leviticus

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. lynnes  |  March 7, 2011 at 9:06 am

    I think this conversation may be more traumatic to parents, because we want our children to love themselves the way we love them so we don’t want to botch it. I know with G, we introduced the topic with a book and he showed interest and made the connections but kind of shrugged and said ok. It wasn’t until later in the week when the information had perked in his brain that we started getting questions and were able to go into detail. I think you’re smart to tell him about it before he heard it anywhere else.

    Reply
  • 2. Dearna  |  March 7, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Your C sounds just like our Christian. Christian is only 5 and we have not told him yet but we are very open about ASD in our house. I do worry about the time he will begin to hear the whispers or see the raised eyebrows of others but at this stage he is just a happy enthusiastic little boy who is completely unaware of what others think. I live in NZ and they pulled Parenthood after only 4 episodes, I was so disapointed, but the network say they will bring it back.

    Reply
  • 3. Lizbeth  |  March 7, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Way more traumataic for parents, I think! We told Alex and he asked if I was finished talking so he could play his I-touch. Humph.

    Reply
  • 4. therocchronicles  |  March 7, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    I think about this and wonder when we should tell the Roc, how we should go about bringing it up.

    Could C be processing it? Maybe he will ask questions later? I bet the info is in there, percolating.

    Reply
  • 5. Becky Carpenter  |  March 7, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Perhaps it’s because, though you’ve worried all along, you’ve done exactly what C needed at every step in this journey. You’ve made him feel that he is exactly who he should be. . . C.

    Reply
  • 6. robinaltman  |  March 7, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    I love Becky’s comment, and I heartily agree! I love the image of you agonizing over this moment, and C being completely non chalant. Too funny.

    Reply
  • 7. rosie  |  March 9, 2011 at 6:27 am

    i too agree w/becky!! u HAVE done exactly what he needed and made him feel that he is exactly who he should be!! LOVE IT !

    Reply
  • 8. mommy~dearest  |  March 9, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Haha…yes, we have had similar reactions to “the talk” at our house too. What’s even funnier, is when I bring it up again, Jaysen always says “my what?” or “what’s Autism?” like it’s a whole new idea that we never talked about. Sheesh.

    Reply
  • 9. Lizbeth  |  March 9, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    I had to think of you today—I went to lunch with my son and the kids were complete prigs to him/us. I was thinking of you wishing I could ask if you minded sharing your table—we’d love to join you.

    Reply
  • 10. Bruce (born 2b me)  |  March 16, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Yes, I get the feeling that, as Becky said, you’ve made C feel that he is exactly who he should be… C.

    Discovering, in the past few months, an explanation for my “differences,” and discovering a community of like-minded people, has been very liberating for me. I’ve been able to chuck overboard a lot of guilt, shame, and sense of failure. Or, I should say, they seem to be just fading away by themselves.

    I’m glad C won’t have to wait 65 years!! 🙂

    Reply
  • 11. Michele  |  March 18, 2011 at 5:03 am

    just wanted to say hi, just discovered your blog. My little boy (turning 4 in May) recently dx with ASD so its nice to read a blog of a mum who gets it
    Thanks
    Michele

    Reply
  • 12. Patty  |  March 18, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    This is great! My son sounds much like yours. He really doesn’t seem to care what others think. It doesn’t even register on his radar that someone might not like him. I have been wondering if I and/or when I should have the A talk with him, but I really don’t think it’ll make that much of an impact when we do. We’ll see.

    Reply

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