Finally, a chance to add to my blog on a more significant subject than even the ones with which I have been prone to deal.
What brings about this change? It’s the acknowledgement by a member of the medical community (as well as the local school system) that my son (Garrett) is Autistic (and very possibly mildly ADHD).
In terms of Autism (as much as I don’t like the term, on the basis that I believe it talks about a true spectrum not just of symptoms, but of conditions), he is “Level 2 on a scale of 1 to 3.”
What does that mean to me and mine? Not much! We were already acutely aware that he was dealing with some condition we assumed to be Autism (literally, since he was around 18 months old, and he is now five, fairly soon to be six). The result is, Lisa and I have been “coping” with it in our own ways.
In Lisa’s case, it has been to learn as much as she has been able, as well as to try to find effective ways to deal with the uniqueness that is our boy.
For me, it has mostly been about doing what I was sure would yield desired results, modifying my approach when I saw that things were not working entirely as desired.
I haven’t decided whether adding a blog category (or set of them) will result in just a few, or quite a few blog posts. That being said, I can assure you I’ve more than a few things to say.
As a quick aside, the “Level 2 diagnosis” basically means Garrett is “special needs,” but not non-verbal or largely excessive in his behavior (so, doesn’t sit in a corner rocking, entirely unable to reconcile the world around himself).
Those who know Garrett to any extent are aware that he is an odd, but wonderful little boy. His quirks take some getting used to, but if you really get to know him (unless he takes a dislike to you that you cannot “fix,” which is not terribly common), you will find an adventurous, curious, happy little boy to be the person with whom you are dealing.
Those who know me, know well that I am far from displeased or disappointed with my boy. He is a great young man with what I believe to be a wonderful—if difficult—future.
In fact, as much as I love my other children (and you can be assured that I love them all), I find Garrett to so far be the greatest challenge while at the same time being the greatest reward.
As with all of my blog entries, I am going to work to keep them inside my self imposed thousand word limit. I know it’s hard enough for most folks to take the time to read even that few words, certainly much harder, more words than that.
This blog entry is designed to be an “introduction,” but at the same time, it is an opportunity for me to say some things that have been on my mind for quite a few more years than my son has been on the planet.
Firstly, I have resisted creating a blog about this subject until such time as official confirmation was “handed down from on high,” as it were. I have been eagerly awaiting this day, not because I could say I had an Autistic son (that would be true, diagnosis aside), but because the official confirmation of that situation on multiple fronts means that I can speak without being quite so easily labeled an “outsider.”
I know, I know, there are those who have been dealing with Autism for a great deal longer than have I. More importantly, I am still a “bystander” in every important sense, since (though I may well be mildly Autistic myself), I have never been diagnosed as being anywhere on the spectrum. That means I can only talk about dealing with Autism “from the outside,” but that’s just fine with me.
I also know that, even if I accept that Autism is one thing (and I have already stated that I don’t), there are considered to be “levels,” and I can only talk with any assurance, from the perspective of someone dealing with the second of three levels (meaning there may be marked differences in dealing with severe or truly mild Autism).
When you add to that the fact that I don’t believe Autism is one thing, it should be obvious that I expect everyone dealing with Autism to cast a critical eye on what I say (and with absolutely the best of reasons).
One thing I have been pretty much bursting to say, is that Autistic people need and want love and affection to the same degree as (if not more than), people not dealing with Autism. Put another way, the concept that care, attention, affection, indeed love is not significant because of the apparent inability of the person diagnosed with Autism to comprehend or express them in the same ways “normal” people do, is—in my humble opinion—pretty much hogwash.
My son went from seemingly being able to express emotion, to seemingly being unable to do so. In the course of time though, being unrelenting in our affection towards him, appears to have helped him to be able do so again.
Am I saying all people labelled Autistic will magically gain or regain that ability? Not at all! What I am saying though, is that I can scarcely imagine them not appreciating a supportive, loving environment. And even if they don’t appreciated it, it doesn’t somehow make it without benefit or merit.
Another thing I think needs said is this. When you’re dealing with an Autistic person, you’re likely to find them standoffish, aloof, maybe downright cold or—seemingly, if not actually—disinterested. Does this mean you ought not try to cultivate a relationship? Not at all! Consider their feelings. Think about what you would feel like if someone else treated you as you treat them, and modify your approach to them accordingly.
One last thing as I’m already over my self imposed word count.
You may believe that an Autistic individual will never be able to function in the world (or even understand what you’re saying about or to them), this is a mistake you can never afford to make. To begin with, in doing so, it is highly likely you are “shortchanging” the individual. As well, you may well do damage that it may take a very long time to undo. I have worked hard to earn and keep my son’s trust, that’s no accident.
Okay, having gone substantially “over my limit,” allow me to wish you the best of days, and to thank you for reading.