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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Perspective taking, anxiety and stress

I listen to a fascinating interview with "Robyn Stewart" on "Woman’s Hour" about the stresses and strains of living as an autistic adult in the UK. How the provision of services is dire. How small incidents of no apparent import can have a paralyzing effect on an autistic individual throughout adulthood.

The newly weds retire for the night. I prompt my children to say goodnight at 7:30 in the evening.
“Geez you are night night time already?”
My youngest daughter blushes as she hugs her big sister.
“Dat’s it.”
“What’s it.”
“Dat is dah baddest fing I have ever bin hearded.”
“Heard dear, heard.” I see the signs. Fast speech, tense body, wringing hands, angry tone as he begins to fizz.
“I’m never gonna be a married.”
“How come?”
“I don like dat rule.”
“Which rule?”
“Dah sleeping for marrieds at 7:30.”
“Ah……well that’s because…….he Brazilian, nothing to do with being married. Dad and I are married and we’re wide awake.” Once he has latched onto an idea it can be difficult to resolve, distract or deflect.
“Er…..you are American marrieds or English marrieds?”
“What time is English marrieds are sleeping?”
“What time is American marrieds are sleeping?”
“Oh American’s go to bed very early indeed. Most of them go at nine o’clock because they get up so early, just like you do come to think of it.” His hands clench the material on his trouser legs as he hones in.
“What time is Chinese marrieds are sleeping?”
“Well they’re 15 hours ahead of us in Beijing so it’s the middle of the afternoon for them.”
“What time is Australian marrieds are sleeping?” His increasing agitation continues to spiral.
“Well Australia is very big too, so it depends which bit of Australia you’re in.”
“Aghhhh! Where I am to be a married who is not ever be sleeping.”
“The land of the midnight sun dear. It would be perfect for you…..apart from the snow and ice of course.”
“Aghh dis is impossible.” It’s easy to identify the spark once he’s on fire. It is far more difficult to dampen down after ignition.
“Well you’re not likely to be getting married any time soon, so you don’t need to worry about it right now.”
“What about my childs?”
“What about your children? You don’t have any children yet either.”
“My childs will be like me?”
“Er……perhaps. You never can tell.”
“How are you not know any of deez fings?”
“Well………there are just so many mysteries…….we can’t know everything and we can’t predict the future.” Platitudes are rarely effective. I watch him begin to pogo on the spot with clenched fists and bared teeth because I lack logic, amongst other things.
“Tell you what though!”
“Wot!” he bellows on his last centimeter of string.
“When you marry you’ll be an adult and adults can follow any rules they like.” He exhales as he flops onto the floorboards in a heap, spent. Maybe, just maybe that’s enough. I wait as his eye lids flutter.
“Yes dear?”
“How long until I am an adult?”
“About ten years, give or take.”
“Ten years! Dat is unbelievable!”
We begin the next spiral.

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