autism self-awareness: an update

After months of no movement on talking to Andrew about autism, we’ve begun to move forward again.

1. He tells me that he’s very rare. By that he means ‘unique’. And I agree: “there’s no one like you Andrew.” When he tells me what makes him rare he talks about the qualities we discussed last summer: his eye contact, his vestibular sense (which he calls “that thing about my ears”) and how he has three bumps on his ankle bone, instead of just one. That last one is true…he does have some leg-bone-growth abnormality that is asymptomatic (no pain, no movement issues) except that it will give him VERY big feet. ha! But…that has nothing to do with autism. But, what’s striking to me about his “I’m very rare” conversations is how much pride he takes in being different.

2. They have been studying Hellen Keller in school. “Hellen Keller is an American hero, Mommy!” He’s learned the history of her life, how she learned language and how she ended up being a writer and public speaker. He was fascinated by braille. But, the big take-away seems to have been “it’s okay to be different.” When we were splitting a pizza the other night, we all had two pieces, except for I-had-a-late-lunch Dave, who opted for one. Isaac balked. We were all the same except for Daddy! Daddy needs two pieces too! But Andrew pipped up with “It’s okay to be different, Isaac!” and then he said quietly, under his breath “Hellen Keller” and sort of nodded. :)

3. It’s IEP season around here. I have a ba-gillion meetings over the next few weeks and I guess I keep talking about them because Andrew asked me “What’s an IEP meeting?” I explained that I meet with his teachers and therapists (I listed them all by name so he knew who would be there) and we talk about what new goals we want for Andrew for the next year and we talk about how far he came in the last year. But…I also told him that not every kid has an IEP. Only kids that need their education to be different have IEPs. He nodded, but I couldn’t tell how he was feeling about all of it. “Does that make you uncomfortable, Andrew?” “No,” he said. “I’m comfortable.”

4. We’ve also discussed his therapies and why he meets with each of his therapists. And again, I’ve told him that not every kids needs speech therapy or occupational therapy. We’ve talked about what therapies Isaac gets and how those therapists are working a little differently with Isaac because he has different strengths and weaknesses.

5. But…I have not yet mentioned autism specifically. I’m shy to and I’m dying to. Both. But, as far as I can tell, he’s been very open and responsive to hearing about all the ways that he’s different. I’d go so far as to say, he likes it. So my guess it, hearing that these traits are characteristics of autism wouldn’t sound that crazy to him at all. And even if it does…even it does end up being something that is hard to hear…that’s okay too. I’ll just hug him and hold him and tell him that he is awesome.

now…to get up the nerve to do it!

In other news: I made this scrapbook page about a date Dave and I took last July. I was sorting through my photos, came across these and wanted to pause to appreciate this point in our lives where dates are easy and fun (not like when our babies were babies! dates back then were tricky and short!).


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About robyn

I stopped teaching Kindergarten in 2005 to become the mom of two crazy boys here in Brooklyn. At first I thought being a stay at home mom meant that I needed to pour all my time and energy directly into my sons, but I realized somewhere along the way that being a rockstar mom meant not only taking good care of my boys, but also taking good care of myself. And taking good care of myself means pursuing something creative...just about everyday. I started Made In Brooklyn to motivate myself in my creative goals as well as share my work with others and perhaps inspire them in their own creative journeys.
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8 Responses to autism self-awareness: an update

  1. Susan says:

    Maybe getting Andrew in on your poster project would be a way to bring up the “label” aspect?

    Though I also think it’s fine to not rush to label. It might be helpful as he’s growing to have a richer, more complex idea of what’s making him different rather than a one-word label.

  2. Rhona says:

    You just need to tell him when the time seems right. I think you’re awesome and a wonderful mother to Andrew and Isaac – they’re so lucky to have you as their Mom xx

  3. Ruth says:

    Tricky one, this. You know that I think you do an amazing job with your two munchkins and I think that you’ll find that the whole discussion happens organically, as it were, without you even realising until after the fact.
    As for The Boy Child, I don’t believe he notices that he is different … yet.

  4. Amy says:

    I was going to say what Susan has said – but, really, you and Dave will be the ones to know when that time is right.

    Labels are limiting in some respects – I can’t imagine either of your boys being limited by a label.

  5. Debs14 says:

    Your parent radar will kick in when the time is right but it sounds like you’re dealing with it brilliantly at the moment. Every single one of us is different in our own way and it seems that he is very accepting of the things that make him special.
    At the moment my son is working for a company who offer support and help to autistic adults in finding – and keeping – employment. He has learnt so much about autism and the ways in which we can all help by understanding and maybe sometimes adjusting the way WE think about things or say things can make a huge difference.

  6. Julie says:

    Robyn, I found your blog through Melissa and love following along with your baking, scrapping, and your boys. They are just precious. I also follow another blog, The MOB Society (Mother of Boys) and they had an interview of a gentleman the other night on Facebook. Reading some of his responses made me think of you and how you parent your boys. He had some wonderful comments about how his mom raised him and encouraged him. I just thought you might want to read it (if you don’t already follow it).

    http://themobsociety.com/2013/03/a-facebook-party-recap-interview-with-nathan-clarkson/

  7. Mama V says:

    what a week this was!

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