Friday, February 18, 2011

I am reading Let Me Hear Your Voice while Wylie sleeps off yet another sickness

There exists on this spectrum some symptoms that could be considered normal personality variations. I don't particularly love a lot of company. I don't usually spontaneously engage in conversation with acquaintances. My dad is pretty gadgety, figured out how to build personal computers by himself. Doesn't really give a damn WHAT people think about him. Praise and criticism kinda falls on deaf ears.

Wylie struggled with his eye contact program when he started therapy. For the first few months he made zero progress. I did not exactly practice it with him enthusiastically. I hesitated for very valid reasons- I've read over and over again, from therapists and personal accounts from people with ASD and Asperger's, stories of behavior therapy exacerbating an aversion to eye contact. It seems to make sense, too, from a behavioral point of view- if you want a child to ignore his name, give him a task to do every time he responds to it.

On a very personal level, I relate. It has been said, although I don't know if it's true, that it's common for even pretty normal, neurotypical parents to share autistic traits with their children, perhaps to a lesser degree. Both Wylie's father and I have very poor eye contact. Years in the retail industry have provided ample opportunity to train myself to consciously make the effort, but the truth is, unless I'm making a point to prove to you that I'm listening intently, I almost never make eye contact. And, like people with ASD, interestingly, I have a VERY hard time recognizing strangers' faces, probably because I spend so little time looking at their face. People researching autism used to think there was a deficit in the ability to recognize faces when ASD was present. Now it is starting to look like it's just an effect of not looking, not seeing. Wylie's father probably has more abnormal eye contact than I do. While I just unconsciously ignore eye contact, he seems to actually get uncomfortable with eye contact sustained for over a second.

Anyway, Wylie's eye contact has dramatically improved. We have come a long way from me hysterically trying to yank his chin up to get him to look at me when he was 16 months old. But, you know, there is this assumption NT parents make about what their children on the spectrum need to improve upon. I quickly realize the fallacy of the parents lamenting the Birthday Party With Lots of Friends They Never Get To Throw mostly because I was a kid who had to spend her birthday hanging out with a bunch of kids I didn't particularly like. Social skills and pretend play. Pfft. Haha! I don't mean to offend. It's just that I meet a LOT of parents who are completely comfortable with a pretty high level of accomodation for individuals on the spectrum, but then insist on spending a lot of time changing a personality trait in autism because "socialization leads to better learning opportunities." You COULD just accomodate the learning disability aspect of it, in theory.

This book I'm reading is good, but the author is a little stressed out about her children's quirkiness. I don't think I really completely fall into the neurodiversity camp, people who think autism is just a difference that should be accepted and accomodated. I think very serious problems result from autism, and it worries me that my pets are more socially intelligent than my son. But weirdness is hardly something to fear if a person is successful and happy.

No comments:

Post a Comment