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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Surprise, surprise

All too often I am amazed by the boys. Considering that they have negligible social skills, it is surprising how they instinctively get some things perfectly right, all by themselves with absolutely no assistance from me or anyone else.

I have already mentioned, that on the whole, they don’t do too well with unique visitors. The more often someone visits, the more quickly they’ll adjust, but someone who just calls the once, usually comes off the worse for the experience. That said, there are always the exceptions. Not so long back some friends of ours came to visit. Usually we see them in the evening, all of us being child free having mortgaged our souls to a babysitter. Today they come with their youngest child, a sweet toddler of the female persuasion, whilst their older children are occupied with older children occupations elsewhere.

When the door bell rings, my children mob the front door to welcome guests in their own unique ways. The toddler hides behind the safe knees of her mother as by comparison, my children are fast moving and extremely loud. Both the boys spot the little girl. I clamp a discrete palm over my own youngest, whose current phrase is ‘girlz are stoopid! Girlz are stoopid! Girlz are stoopid!” which he repeats all to frequently regardless of company and generally without any reference to anything specific. He could just as easily say “nuts are round,” with the same tone of derision. His more socially adept, but oblivious older brother, notices my hand and connects the dots without assistance. He steps forward and crouches down to be on eye level with the toddler. How does he know that his bulk might be intimidating for a little one? “Hi, you are a girl?” he says it quietly, with a friendly soft tone and a gentle smile. The toddler grins, in silence. His head flicks back to his little brother, just to check, “oh no! You must not be saying that!” he hisses at him, a warning. I reassure.

“I can show you my room?” he offers. The toddler squirms, but still grins. “Maybe we can find some toys for you?” His brother chimes in, “you wanna play Pokemon wiv us?” His generous offer is quashed by his brother, “no dumbass, she just a little. We need to find er……small toys…….no……toys fur little kids.” Both boys hare off in unison, in a race to find the perfect toy for a small visitor.

Their exchanges are so swift that it’s hard to keep track of them as they’re on a roll, motivated. Each suggestion by the little one, is ridiculed by the older, “no, dumbass! Oopsie! Sorry. I dun mean to hurt yur feelings.”
“Das o.k. Wot about dis one?”
“No, dumbass! Oopsie! Sorry. I dun mean to hurt yur feelings. She could swallow dat, it’s too small for a little kid.”
“Das o.k. Wot about dis one?”
“No, dumbass! Oopsie! Sorry. I dun mean to hurt yur feelings. Dat’s a scarry fing for a little kid.”
“Das o.k. Wot about dis one?”
“No, dumbass! Oopsie! Sorry. I dun mean to hurt yur feelings. Dat’s a boy fing …..er…well…..I dunno maybe.” They continue this exchange whilst the toddler behind them wades through the growing pool of discarded substandard offerings. He sees her out of the corner of his eye and launches himself at her, “no, no, no” he cooes, “dat is too dangerous for you.” He whips the wooden toy hammer away like a pick pocket and slips back a flower with the slight of hand of a conjurer. His categories may be a bit off, but his intentions are pure.

I’m sure that there are a lot of boys around who have little brothers and sisters. They’re kind and gentle with them. There are other children without the benefits of modeling, who behave similarly. They’re comfortable being goofy and soppy with youngsters. My son has always been tender hearted when it comes to babies and toddlers, it could almost be part of the diagnoses. Such behaviour is so easily explained – he has a speech delay and poor social skills, it is easier for him to communicate with someone who is not a threat. It is not an explanation that I warm to.

When people connect autism with a lack of emotion and empathy, I am saddened. My children now have words, which they use and share with us. As often as not, even if these autistic children share the same humanity, they may not be able to express it in a way that we’re capable of understanding. Just because we can’t see it or hear it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.


KC's Blog said...

Your post really touched my heart.

K.C. has no words but you can see in his eyes that he's really trying to figure out this complicated world.

Your kiddos always bring a smile to my face, they are so loving and so very bright :)

Your older fella reminds me of Big Brother ALOT. They share many of the same phrases ;)

Angela DeRossett said...

Sounds a lot like my house! It is amazing how kids will surprise you from time to time.

Jeni said...

Oh my, how true that is! Just because one can't always understand what is being said, offered by way of different communication skills, doesn't mean these kids are incapable of emotion -or empathy too. Maya, according to her teacher at the pre-school she now attends, reports that she has become a little mother hen to a boy in her group who is in a wheel chair. Worries about him there if he leaves to room for his own specialized therapy and at home she frequently talks about him, asks us about him too. Her baby brother, on the other hand, well she isn't always ultra nice and gentle with him but then too, she really only "discovered" his presence in the house about 2-3 months ago and he'll be 18 months old this month. Oh, and btw -the early-intervention team was here this morning to test him -preliminary results? - they believe he most likely is autistic too. And you know what else? I am relieved that is what they feel they are seeing in him as there are soooooo many other things that could be wrong in a child that are much, much worse for the parent and/or the child to cope with than autism is.

The Shepcarpclan said...

"no dumbass", had a chuckle there. Caleb also has a a couple phrases I would like gone.

"When people connect autism with a lack of emotion and empathy". That is sad, I always felt they had as much if not more.

Sweet posting, thank you.

Anne said...

I love reading about your kids.
Kevin doesn't converse, but he will show some emotion and understanding. If his sister is sad for whatever reason, he'll stroke her arm, in attempt to make her feel better.

KAL said...

I so agree with you. I love reading about your boys and their words.

Linda said...

I take it your youngest son's name is "dumbass"?? How cute and funny and touching all at the same time!

VAB said...

What charming hosts! You know that whole, "Autistic people have no empathy" thing is so silly. Sometimes I can't believe that psychologists actually get paid for what they do.

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