"Hey, mom, do I have autism?"

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by MidwestMom, Aug 13, 2008.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Truly, my son (almost fifteen) is a mystery. He keeps so much inside of him (as all kids on the Spectrum do) and I often think he doesn't "get" things that he gets very well. I've tried to engage him in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) talk before, but he's never seemed interested (or disturbed). He just changed the subject.

    Tonight he came downstairs and asked, "Mom, do I have autism?"
    It shocked me. I'm not sure why, but it did, maybe because he never seemed interested in it. I calmly said, yes, he did and asked why he wanted to know. He said, "Oh, they're talking about it on the radio. People are giving their different experiences."
    I had no idea he'd listen to something like that. I said, "Is it interesting?"
    He said, "Yes. Some are very high functioning."
    I said, "You are. Do you know that?"
    He shrugged. "I don't know. I guess so."
    "Does it bother you or make you sad?" I ask, and my heart is racing.
    He makes a face. "Not really."
    "You like the way you are?"
    He looks in the refrigerator. "Yeah."
    "You don't want to change?"
    "No." With that he grabs something out of the refrigerator and goes to the table.
    He did not sound upset. He was very matter-of-fact and logical.
    I thought this was really interesting. Kids on the spectrum don't share a lot, but, when they do, you realize that they know SO MUCH and are not as clueless as I tend to think (I can only speak for myself).
    This summer has been a good one for my son. He has gone out on his bike almost every day, riding about four miles a day to the town where he goes to school. He has dropped by a few friend's houses. This is the first year (EVER) that he has tried to go out and seek his friends.
    This is a child who couldn't speak until he was five, raged like a bull, had wrong diagnoses of ADHD/ODD and bipolar and was exposed to drugs in utero by his birthmother.
    He is truly doing so well, it blows my mind.
    Thought I'd share. Thanks for reading.
  2. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Wow -- sounds like he is doing really, REALLY well! To hear you talk, I'd never think difficult child, just a typical teen :D You have a lot to be proud of in him!
  3. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    MWM, I've "known" L for at least 3 years now, and I'm so happy to read of his progress. He's a great kid. He's lucky to have you in his corner, and you're lucky to have him in your life. Thanks for sharing this wonderful update.
  4. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    What a nice post! :) He sounds like a very intelligent young man. I agree you are both lucky.
  5. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Neat. Insightful.
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    That's really great. It shows - it really pays to raise them to not feel handicapped because of their diagnosis. There is no need to view autism (or many other diagnosis's) as handicaps. It's simply a different way of functioning. It has problems but it also has benefits.

    It's like - our former Olympic swimmer, Ian Thorpe (now retired form competition) is built for competition. Yes, he's had training (intense training) but the talent he has plus the way his body is made (long arms, strong skeleton, lanky frame, large feet that act like built-in flippers) gives him a natural advantage as an Olympic medallist.
    But not all the training in the world could turn him into an Olympic gymnast. He is too big, the wrong shape and would make a real mess of it.

    Is he handicapped? No. Is he fitted to be a gymnast? No way. Is he capable of a wide range of other things? Undoubtedly, many of which haven't even been explored because of all the years he was so totally engrossed in swimming.

    In the same way, our high-functioning autistics are capable of many things we can barely comprehend, because we haven't had the chance to explore all options. Their special mind-quirks do trend them in certain directions and give them some almost freakish natural talent and interest. And there are other areas of expertise where they are definitely NOT suited - I really can't see difficult child 1 selling encyclopedias door to door, for example. Or going into politics. Or working in advertising. But in areas where he is skilled, his particular bents make him ideally suited. His obsessiveness means that he is meticulous about ensuring a high level of quality control in the area his boss has given him.

    I'm short and dumpy. I would make an appalling basketball player. I am short-sighted and wear glasses. But a freakish aspect to my really bad vision - when I take my glasses off, it's like I have built-in magnification. If anyone gets a splinter in their finger, I'm the one who is best equipped to get it out.

    We each have our uses and our abilities. It's good to value these things about ourselves and not stress too much about the things we are less equipped to do.

    difficult child 1 began to be interested in autism in general from about 16. He looked around him and began to identify people around him that he knew, who he felt were similar to him. He realised he had a natural affinity for other high-functioning autistics and as these were people he really liked, he worked out that he also was likeable in turn. I suspect somewhere in there he values himself BECAUSE of his autism; he certainly values it in others. There has been no sense of shame in either boy (difficult child 1 or difficult child 3) for being autistic.

    Both boys were called nasty derogatory names by local bullies. I remember difficult child 1 and easy child 2/difficult child 2 getting home really steamed because a bully on the school bus had said to them, "You've got a retard brother."
    And difficult child 3 was called "retard" coupled with another REALLY bad word.
    But when I explained to difficult child 3 what "retard" means, I also explained how that word just doesn't apply to difficult child 3. Plus it's a term which just isn't used any more. difficult child 3 was so confident in his own intelligence, that he thought it was funny that other kids were accusing him of being not smart. HE knew the marks he was getting in school!

    We do have fights on our hands with our kids, when they have to deal with the trash thrown at them verbally by bullies. If they start to believe the rubbish it can make it difficult to keep their self-esteem where it needs to be.
    MidwestMom, you've obviously done a really good job in making sure none of that muck stuck to him.

    Good for you.

  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the kind words, guys.
    He is NOT a typical teen. He is different. But he is doing far better than we ever dreamed--I posted kind of to give others hope--interventions can be wonderful. Also, it helps that we FINALLY got the right diagnosis.
    Actually daughter (12) thinks L. gets off easy a lot because of his Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and maybe he does--if so, we ARE treating him differnt. I give him the credit for his progress, not us. He has tried very hard and has such a good soul. It makes me feel sad about his birthmother. Somewhere out there in Chicago is somebody who probably had a disability plus was extremely poor--and she made a baby with a man who probably had a lot of good in him too. They made a remarkable child together, but because services and money wasn't there for them, they never had the chance that L. had. Nor did his four bio. siblings who are still "out there."
    Anyway, I digress. I think the interventions he had allowed him to climb the ladder...and he took advantage. But he had a LOT of wonderful teachers and aides helping him get this far. IF we did one thing right it was not to fight the diagnosis or try to completely mainstream him before he was ready. And we fought the school district hard--by getting advocates and going straight to the Dept. of Education when the school districts tried to skimp on services. We got for him what we wanted. Everything. Now they're afraid of us...lol. They don't give us grief :)
    But even with all this progress, he will need a little help as an adult, at least in early adulthood. Still, he went from a two year old who threw his time out chair and BIT us to this thoughtful teenager. And your k ids can too.
  8. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Cool. Great way to handle the conversation, too.
    Way To Go.
  9. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    What a neat conversation to have! I agree he is lucky to have you as a mom. You have been a great advocate for him and it's great he is doing so well!
  10. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    MWM, what a great conversation. How wonderful for him to have some curiosity and self reflection. I think our kids know a lot but a) aren't that interested in the depth of a topic and B) aren't that good at expressing their thoughts. I always get the impression that my difficult child thinks because he knows it or has a memory of a situation that I have the same ones. Like our brains are linked.

    My question to difficult child the next time would be to ask him what does he think it means to have "autism"?

    My difficult child went to a program where all the meals were kosher. They asked difficult child if that was a problem. difficult child responded "heck no". I asked difficult child if he knew what it meant? Of course not. Intellectually he knew the term but what did that mean in his life was not a thought in his sweet little head.

    I do not believe most people know what being on the spectrum means in terms of function, out come and special needs. It's a term that lay people shake their heads in understanding but don't really know what it means. I doubt your difficult child or mine has a lot of understanding of the terminology yet.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Fran, what a great question. Actually son is going to start seeing an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) therapist for teenagers soon and I'm going to tell him to address "what is autism" with my son.
    I have to laugh at "Do you mind if the food is kosher" and "of course not." But he didn't know what it was. My son would have said the same thing then come home and said "They had kosher food or something. What does that mean?" Then when I started to explain, he'd wave his arm and say "Never mind." LOL
  12. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    rofl. I'm glad he is doing so well. He is surprising and really making good progress. Yay! for him and for you. Your love has been unmoveable and your support has given him so much security. It's a great thing.
  13. ML

    ML Guest

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It truly does give us all hope.
  14. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    My heart sank as I read that your raced!

    I was uplifted to read the happy ending. What a nice post.
  15. That is really great! Thanks for sharing.
  16. Thanks so much for sharing...
    This really gives me hope.
    Our difficult child doesn't identify with the AS label at all. For now, we're just letting it be.
    I think your difficult child is really awesome!
  17. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Yay! We're trying so hard to get to that point! difficult child 1 has been asking about diagnosis's lately of some of his classmates and I know the question about himself is coming.

    Not to sound like a jerk, but you made me feel so much better when you mentioned the rages. You're guy sounds just like mine (even with the wrong diagnosis's!) and this really really gave me hope!

    Wonderful post!

  18. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    What a postive post! Thanks, MWM! It gives hope to a lot of us, no matter what the diagnosis is.

    And, congratualtions to you...I realize he's done some work and others in his life have helped him, too, but that couldn't have happened if you hadn't seen to it that the opportunities were provided.

    Good Job!!
  19. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    AWESOME!! It shows that no matter what gets tossed at them, kids really CAN overcome most anything. IF (mostly only IF) they end up with caring, loving adults in their lives. (GO WARRIOR MOM!)