Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Deprived of a Deficit Model: a personal perspective

Um. Here's the deal about me.  I have struggled with my own problems related to my neurology, my whole life. I searched for answers for a long time, theorizing about how I was brought up, heritable personality traits, socioeconomic factors. I had a pretty inflated sense of myself, maybe as some sort of coping mechanism to deal with my feelings of hurt, confusion, and injustice, so I didn't spend much time considering that it was my fault, heh.

I did not even consider neurological issues until well into treating  my son's ASD. It started to occur to me that I fit the description for ADHD, but here I was, a fully functioning adult, learning new behavioral strategies every day. I didn't see an immediate need for an assessment or treatment. For the last few years, I've incorporated routines and behaviors that have compensated a little for my organizational problems.

And now I'm sort of at the point where I'm almost 30, and I don't know how much time I can devote to trying little behavioral strategies here and there for myself, without professional input and maybe even support. I've spent my whoooole life probably unreasonably skeptical of psychotropic drugs, and suddenly I find myself very intrigued by some promising medications.

Because I'm no longer sure I can easily say I'm "fully functioning."

A deficit model has opened my eyes.

I've LIVED without a deficit model. My parents were fairly accepting of a lot of my difficult traits, and they were quick to recognize any legitimate strength I had. I was impulsive, inattentional, forgetful, confrontational, uninhibited. This meant I made rash decisions and often acted before thinking. I was also the champion of performing under pressure, dealing cooly with overwhelming situations, and when there is an emergency in which time is of the essence. For a really long time, it never occured to me how neurologically related my strengths and my weaknesses are. I get lost in these conversations about "Autism as an identity." Too abstract, across the board. First you'd have to thoroughly explore the answers to the questions: What is Autism? What is Identity?  But if I were to start taking straterra, and I became more mindful, would I freeze like all of the normals do when it *really* counts?

I'm impatient, ya know. I sometimes speak positively about my impatience, either with some sarcastic bravado or some downright justification. Haha. I like to act outraged that people waste my time, although I'm chronically late, everywhere. Here I go again, all "haha." It's not funny. It's fucking ugly. That's some diva ass shit right there. And yet, it's my impatience that drives me forward. And never knowing where to start and where I'm headed in life makes me aptly suited for critical situations that sensible people are often completely disabled by. When time is of the essence, and the perfect decision a few seconds too late is worthless, I shine. I really shine. Like. Saving the company from ruin. Saving the family dog from choking. Single-handledly. That's what I do. I just DO the damn thing, because I don't waste time thinking. Psssh.

I'm the hero. You know. That's my role in life that I am most proud of. It isn't all of who I am by a long shot, but it's something I hang a lot of my self worth on, because, it's all I really know that I'm definitely good for. Do you think I don't know what it's like to be made to feel inferior and deficient by unimaginitive and ignorant fucks who seem to think they accomplished something just by having some innate ability they didn't even work for? Seems kinda small minded in a world where progress depends on the presence of outliers. Comparitive advantage, and all that. The world has a lot of sensible people whose frontal lobes keep them nice and functionally stable. It needs a few heroes.

What a glamor skill, eh?? It's all for show. How often does that shit do ME any good? It's not a superior way of thinking, it's just adventageous, ya know, sometimes. Almost never. Heh. It looks real good, tho, when it happens...

Identity. The fuck is that, anyway. Jeez, what if there IS a pill to take it all away? I keep joking with my husband, "playing office" at home, fantasizing about Strattera making a nice conventional job bearable, so that people with shittier cars and shittier attitudes than mine can stop looking at me with contempt just because I can't sit on my ass bullshitting all day and call it a fucking workday, okay?! But just you wait, man. Just you wait.

I'm really starting to think this is a highly complicated issue. Strengths and weaknesses are often simply the same trait in a different context. I realize a lot of my admirable traits are directly related to my behavioral inhibition deficits. Had I been assessed in childhood, and my parents went "hardcore remediation," my whole life might have been different. Maybe I wouldn't have been such a mess. Maybe I wouldn't have even been a spunky, fearless, free spirit. Omg, but maybe I wouldn't be such a mess.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

4th Birthday Party

Here we are, another year. Ummmm. Let’s see. My son is four years old now.

Haha. I usually do a yearly update post about where we are right now. But now that my son is four years old, it seems a little impossible to write a neat little narrative about what’s up in our lives.

Today he had his birthday party, and the turn out was, well, pretty typical. If anything, the party flow was pretty enjoyable and seamless, especially considering the professionals were teens working for minimum wage. In so many instances, it is so obvious that my son is different, but I’m actually a little taken aback by how well he fits in, playing with his classmates at a party.

I’m pretty sure he’s pretty good at reading. Haha. It’s hard to tell—I don’t know if he’s fucking with me. Sometimes I could see where he could pick up some context clues and take a pretty good guess—sometimes he’s clearly reading a word, with no information available other than text. Then again, could he be reading small words like “red” and “purple” but memorizing words like “microeconomics”? You never know because he’s a tricky bastard.

There ARE times when I get a little freaked out by his behavior. Sometimes it really does seem like he is just in his own little world. He talks to his finger like an imaginary friend and, heh, I don’t know. It was cute, but it didn’t stop. And, then, I don’t know, his eyes will glaze over and he will sound like he’s whispering to someone, like he’s having a conversation with someone, and it’s really freaky. It SEEMS like he’s completely losing touch with reality. I SUPPOSE it could be as simple as a stim, a script, something I don’t recognize or understand, and so I just don’t get it. Freaky, tho.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m too complacent, but it’s hard to sweat the small stuff. Kid can’t put on his shoes without help. He only asks questions he already knows the answers to. We are just starting to make progress with verbal sequencing and telling a story. Sometimes I think he’s a little lonely, and ultra sensitive. (Shrug) But he orders his own food at restaurants. He’s a whiz on the computer.  He’s excitable, and has a passion for life. He’s really fricken hilarious, and has a smart mouth. He argues with me about who is better—Kesha or Britney. He’s friggen WRONG, by the way. It’s Britney, bitch. I don’t know what his problem with Kelly Clarkson is, he just don’t like her.

Ha. So, shit. I don’t know. Autism schmautism. Flippant, right? Temporary. Hyperbolic. Maybe. Things just seem pretty, er, pleasantly unremarkable right now. Hey, it happens sometimes. I’ll gladly take whatever Easy the universe wants to send my way.