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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Just typical – social skills and the autistic child

[Fast forward to real time for my annual gloat]

Of course the disappointment stems from faulty expectations on the part of the parent, but it stings none the less for that. I think most parents find that the pin pricks of their children feel like personal stabs. It’s part and parcel of being the adult. If you are the adult, then it should be you who is the rational being and dismisses these petty hurts.

When you see the real glee in the typical child’s eyes on arrival for a play date, your chest swells with vicarious pleasure. When you explain that ‘electronics’ are not permitted until 5, you also recognize disappointment in the visitor. The declaration of universal boredom, coupled with discrete enquiries as when mom will be collecting, tells you really all you need to know.

But it is delightful to clock the social skills of your own children, as they attempt entertainment, joke telling, alternative toys and different options. Each accommodation is offered verbally, in a reasonable tone of voice, evoked from genuine concern. They also cope with the repeated rejection, that nothing is acceptable. But when the sulks come on, I have to acknowledge that they have reached their current limit, as they have exhausted their stock of social skills. Their bank of social skills, is larger than I had appreciated. They look at me for a cue or possibly a clue. The guest hides under the stairs, but he is young. I guide my boys away to let him cool off.

Admittedly this is a best case scenario, when my boys are on their own home territory. They may not be able to repeat the 'exercise' elsewhere. [translation = inability to generalize skills] As a pair, they were able to help each other fill in the gaps and probably would not have done as well on their own. Nevertheless, in my mind it is a coup.

When the coast is clear, I see him run upstairs to join and play with the other typicals. I know that he will re-appear at the stroke of the hour, like magic, ready to turn on the charm again, as well as the ‘electronics.’

All children have ‘off’ days, [translation = bad ones] but it wasn’t my children who sulked. They're so few and far between, those opportunities to crow, so I hope a small gloat, once every 12 month, doesn't count as a mortal sin!

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