Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is it Contagious?

I had a hilarious conversation the other day with a wonderful teacher at Dude's school. She is part of the Resource team and a mother of a son on the Autism Spectrum. Her sense of humour, empathy and down to earth approach to dealing with kids, all kids, is so refreshing that I often feel a little tipsy after talking with her. Yes, I think I get a little buzz on from her honesty, optimism and joy. Anyway, the other day she was telling me about her two sons and how the younger one jokes that they are all catching Autism from her older son and I knew exactly what she meant!

There are dozens of things we do everyday that are different than most families. Most of these adjustments began because we realized that its just easier to change how we do things than to watch Dude struggle though his day. I'm not talking major adaptations, just minor tweaks to our routine because although the boy is going to have to learn how to function in neurotypical world there's nothing that says he can't move through life in his own way.

On the surface, people on The Spectrum can appear quirky at best and downright weird at worst. They have their own rhythm to life and do even the most ordinary of tasks in a manner that would never even occur to a neurotypical person to try. Sadly, many times us 'normal' folk try to change these quirky habits so that the person with ASD can fit in. We think we are correcting their behaviour, doing them a favour but most of the time we're not. Making them behave just like everyone else for no other reason than it makes us feel more comfortable is selfish and wrong.

If you talk to a person on The Spectrum and find out the reasoning behind the habit, their way of doing things usually makes perfect sense and is often times much more logical than the norm. I have to tell you that after living with someone on The Autism Spectrum for more than ten years I have to say that I think ASD logic may not be that quirky or weird afterall.

There are tons of times that after a conversation with Dude, I'm not sure which one of us is normal, really. He can explain in detail, and quite persuasively, his point of view. He can give us the why and the how behind his every decision whereas most of us do the things we do, the way we do, because that's the way it's always been done. We couldn't explain our way out of a wet paper bag but we're sure we're right because we're the 'normal' ones. 

So let me ask again, who is the neurologically challenged one? The kid who can tell you why he thinks the way he does, or the hordes of us who mindlessly move through our daily routines?

The point is, I kind of hope ASD logic is contagious because I think it is a gift to move through life knowing, with absolute certainty, why you do what you do.

I see people with Asperger's Syndrome as a bright thread in the rich tapestry of life.
~Tony Attwood

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