I have moved over to WhittereronAutism.com. Please follow the link to find me there. Hope to see you after the jump! :)

Friday, August 10, 2007

The art of disguise

I interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for a reality check.

If you are new to this site, I would respectfully recommend that you skip this posting and turn instead to a little jollity. I am a regular visitor to two jolly sites. One of these is "Dan's" which is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face, especially if you favour cats. Alternatively, you could nip along to "bobbarama" for a wee bit of glee. Trust me, they're safe.

So that was your final warning.

So now, it's just you and me, and nobody is listening. [translation = ear-wigging]

From a few weeks back, on our English Holiday,

[for "Joey's Mom" and "Leelo and his potty-mouthed mom."]

I have deliberately delivered this at the weekend, when visitations are lower, and only the truly desperate can make time in the wee small hours to find a little comfort......

I see her glance at my forearms, so I discretely pull down my sleeves to my wrists before she can focus, to cover all the bite marks. He doesn’t bite so often now, but it’s a habit that returns in times of stress. A holiday is a time of stress, unpredictability and an upset to the routine. Maybe I should try and explain why they bite? The complexity and different forces at work for each of them? The strategies to help each of them?

Her eyes rove towards my hands, “what have you been doing to yourself? Juggling with razor blades?” I debate whether to pull my sleeves down to cover my hands, ball them up like mittens, but it’s too late. “Oh nothing, just a bit careless with the roses,” I lie. It’s our own fault. We forgot to cut his finger nails, those little slivers of glass that slice and carve the flesh. Finger and toe nail cutting, is one of the most howling experiences, only topped in the agony quotient, by hair cutting. These 'self care' duties, are currently our responsibility, because we are the parents. His extreme aversiveness to these tasks, has had a similar affect on us. [translation = reluctance to do the deed]

But holding hands in a foreign land, is even more of an imperative than it is at home. You become so used to the little tell tale signs that you forget about them, they’re of no consequence. It’s only when you are subject to the scrutiny of outsiders, that you need to recall and re-use those old powers of deception.

Who would you tell such things to anyway? Why would you tell anyone? Who would benefit from knowing such things? Surely this kind of information that would only serve to bolster those people who already have reasons to criticize your children? This is the kind of information that helps justify the actions of people, who would do our children harm. As "Kristina Chew" points out, this kind of behaviour permits people to think they can "incarcerate our children," for their own well being and the safety of others. There are only a very few people, with whom I can share such information. A very tiny percentage of the population. The only reason I can think of, that one would bother to pass on such facts, are to people who may have similar experiences. People who also fear that they are the only people with such experiences. Other people who also feel that there is no purpose in sharing such information.

So much of what they 'say' and do is mis-understood, if only by me.

What can you say to the people who are shocked by such behaviour or to the people who are disgusted that you tolerate it, that you, as a parent, clearly have no self respect? To those people? Probably, I would say nothing. To explain, that in the great scheme of things, it’s of no great consequence. To explain that it is a mere irritation that lessens over time, that it is only one element of many. Everything is work in progress. If you doubt the description of 'mere irritation,' I would respectfully suggest the following: if the typical child, bites the typical parent, more often than not, the purpose, however fleeting, is to hurt the parent both physically and psychologically. However, with an autistic child the purpose has an entirely different motivation and as any good lawyer will tell you, the 'intent' underlying any 'offense' is pivotal.

On the whole, it’s re-emergence is entirely predictable and has to be balanced and weighed, against the vast leaps forward that they’re making. Head butts and their aftermath, are obvious to everyone, but a far more subtle, advanced and sophisticated development goes unnoticed. If he comes to a stop at the curb without prompting and spits on the ground, obviously he is a recalcitrant little thug. Such a socially unacceptable gesture, hides his willingness and ability to reign himself in, put on the brakes and stop on his own volition. No-one notices when he hands his preferred toy to his brother to share, nor his brother’s sotto voce, ‘cheers you are dah best one!’ Such trifles are of such tremendous significance that they defy explanation. [translation = it would take too long and we try to avoid lectures] But the minutely tremendous developments are profound for the patient.

I pick these two insignificant incidents, not as examples of 'normal' behaviour, nor as indications of social skills. The ability to avoid running into a road, means that he has a far better chance of reaching adulthood, a significant survival skill. The exchange between him and his brother goes to highlight the bond between them, that has only recently come to light. It may look like social skills, but to me it is empathetic, which is of far greater importance.

Whilst most Brits uncover at the first blink of the sun, I am safe in my long trousers. I claim the excuse of our Californian heritage, which gives me the perfect reason to keep my legs and the multi-coloured bruises, well hidden. I don’t expect people to understand the physicality of restraining 50 or 65 lbs worth of flailing body. It’s not deliberate, it’s escapism, when the fight or flight response kicks in, literally.

“But you look so tired dear,” she sighs.
“But it’s only jet lag Mum!” Isn't it?

It is these kind of holidays, that make me wish I'd taken the advice of those who really know, like "Bev" at "Asperger Square 8," and 'just stayed home.'

In the meantime, we are another year older. We are always learning new "techniques."

A large dose of rest, has restored my appearance to this current state of ‘worn out,’ as opposed to exhausted. And this year is so much better than last year. And last year was so much better than the year before. If we continue at our current trajectory, soon I will only appear elderly, like reverse rejuvenation therapy. Which reminds me to start a new campaign with them, namely, how to push me, their mother, in a bath chair. [translation = and how to apply the brakes] Now that's my kind of exploitation!

For a more mature and balanced perspective about how parents like me, misinterpret matters, please visit "Amanda" at her "site."

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