Why Children with ASD don’t believe in Santa, but do understand that Pie = 3.14….

OK the above is a “slight “exaggeration (wouldn’t want to spoil my rep!), but it also has large elements of truth. Kids with ASD are hard to fool, I think its their sense of logic that makes them harder to palm off with fairy-tales and urban myths. Today’s discussion Class is to do with “Literal interpretation and why colloquialisms are great comedy!”

my boys, both bright, both beautiful, both really really annoying....
my boys, both bright, both beautiful, both really really annoying….

Before I get into today’s rant/debate/discussion, let me set the scene for how my day has gone so far: It started well with a trip to purchase an extremely expensive brand of French lingerie, which cost me well over £300, but I like to think this outrageous expenditure is nicely balanced by the fact that when the Bras are no longer usable we can sell them off to Festivals to be used as Beer Tents…

Things went rapidly downhill when after purchasing outrageously expensive lingerie I got to the car park and discovered my car keys remote control “thingy” seemed to have given up the ghost (no pun intended…!), after spending ten minutes trying to make it work I spotted a Green Flag Roadside Rescue van and thought, “Well I’ll go ask them what to do” Trotted over feeling safe and secure in the knowledge that a highly trained professional would be able to assist me. Explained my predicament and looked up hoping  to be met with much automobile wisdom, and some action on the key front. Was instead met with a highly amused look and the rejoinder: ” You could try putting the key in the lock, that usually works quite well”….Decided to take this advice on board with as much dignity as I could muster (which was frankly very little).

So as you can see the day was going well, finally got home after de-touring via Kazakhstan (damn you GPS lady, why must you always be right!!) and taking my life in my hands on the M1 – clearly it was “Idiot Day” on the Motorways of England. Upon reaching the family residence I realised I had forgotten that it was in fact my Wedding Anniversary, frantically rifled through old gifts that have been given, in the desperate hope that a selection of toiletries and beauty products would suffice as a Wedding Anniversary Gift for the Hubby, then decided as he had not mentioned it, and therefore forgotten.  I would just bin that idea and act indignant when the Hubby finally realised he’d missed a trick!

The day has been nicely rounded off by picking up the offspring from School to discover that today is a “Twerking” Day. I tell you people when my little bucket of madness is on a roll Miley Cyrus has “nothing” on him! Course his is all involuntary, whereas Miley chooses to look like shes having some kind of seizure. We have had the full repertoire today, grunting, snuffling, growling, arm and leg twitching, involuntary flexing of most of his muscles, kicking his own butt repeatedly ( try this at home folks, its waaaaay harder than you think, and frankly exhausting!). All in all pretty painful to watch, and frankly really irritating. I know your not supposed to say that, but a child with motor and vocal tics is downright aggravating, its not dissimilar to being stuck in a room filled with highly agitated Hamsters, in fact its not that peaceful. In medical terms I believe its too do with “seeking bio-feedback”, but honestly its just plain annoying!

But back to the topic of today’s blog: Why kids on the ASD cant be easily fooled, but can have real problems understanding colloquialisms. Any ASD child (or adult for that matter) will really struggle to understand colloquialisms. Now to be fair the Hubby often looks at me blankly if I I speak in colloquialisms, the day I told him “hair of the dog” would help with his hangover is forever embedded in memory for the utterly blank look that followed my statement, rapidly chased up by his indignant “How on earth is eating dog hair going to make me feel better?!” I should at this point mention that the Hubby is Belgian, not just a complete idiot. A language barrier makes everyday things like this difficult to follow. Kids with ASD have the same problem (clearly I really struck lucky marrying a foreigner and then having a kid with ASD!)

Their level of literal interpretation varies enormously, much as the shades of grey that exist on the ASD vary. Our little dude is smart enough to realise that the phrase “its raining cats and dogs” is an expression/metaphor. But he spent many a day trying to work out how “pigs might fly”. Its a funny old World having a child with ASD.

This segways  nicely into the “The theory of mind” This is a whole blog piece in itself, but long story short its to do with the argument that people with ASD lack the ability to recognise that other people might see things differently. I think there is significant truth to this argument, but then I also think anyone with any ounce of attitude probably feels this way too – is it just a case of feeling that your point of view might hold more merit than someone else’s? If so then I too have Autism…….

A point worth remembering is that kids with ASD, particularly  the high functioning/Aspergers end of the Spectrum are always of average or above average IQ. They are no “dumber” than the rest of us, in fact often they are brighter and more switched on. I used to try in vain to make my little box of frogs form letters correctly, and read with inflection and emotion. I finally gave up when somebody pointed out to me that: “Well OK he doesn’t like to read, but he just did an age 11 maths test, and hes 6!”  Point well made.

As ever Autism and its myriad of trials and tribulations, shades of grey, ups & downs, and tears and tantrums, is a minefield. Those who have children with ASD feel the weight of the enormous responsibility that having these children bring. (never kid yourself that any parent of an ASD child doesn’t blame themselves,- you take it to your grave) But we also have an insight into minds that see the World through different eyes, and whilst we are never able to truly see what they see, the journey we take with them brings with it never-ending revelations and moments of wonderful clarity. The day my little Fella looked out over the Ocean whilst we were up in Northumberland, and said to me: “Mummy its quiet here, I like it, my head would like to stay here. Its too noisy everywhere else”, will stay with me for ever. Moments like these make the harder times easier to bear….actually no that’s a load of rubbish, the hard times are hard times, end of. But sometimes its good to kid yourself:)

Our journey with Autism is becoming easier as we learn more, understand more, and drink more Sauvignon! It will always be a struggle, I am by nature paranoid and over-sensitive ( I can see everyone who knows me nodding vigorously in agreement at this point) but as the Hubby often tells me, children with ASD are given to parents who will fight tooth and nail to have their voices heard.

I have to go now as I am attending a Charity Ball this weekend as “Vampire Barbie”, and need to make sure I have enough Dentafix to keep my fangs in…if your good I’ll show you a photo of how Trailor Trash I can look when I try hard.

So today I will end with one of my favourite quotes, taken from : Mommy Dearest from The Quirk Factor: Resistance is Futile,  (as found on Odd One Out blog)

Autism (with a capital “A”) to me, says that I accept my child wholly. I celebrate his differences and his quirky-ness. I advocate diversity. I try to empower him. I am proud of his successes, no matter how small they seem. I hope he holds onto the compassion he has in his heart into adulthood. I do not think he needs “fixing”. I am proud that he is my son, and sometimes I am humbled by that very same thought.

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