Friday, May 2, 2014

What Living With Someone With Autism Taught Me





As most of my readers know, my son, who is 12, has Aspergers. Actually, experts are saying that the term Aspergers should no longer exist, that it all should just be called autism spectrum disorder now. But still. I call it Aspergers.

Living with someone with autism has taught me a lot and I wanted to share some of those things with you all. Please know that I am not making fun of those with autism--this is a light post, and I know some people with autism truly struggle with some of these.

So without further ado...

Here are some things that my son does.



--He's brutally honest.


If you want to know if you look fat in something, find someone with autism. They'll tell you. I once walked over to Tommy in a dress and he went, "You look pregnant." If you try to discuss something they don't want to discuss, they'll flat out tell you that they are bored. Tommy won't feign interest. He'll simply walk away. He used to do this when he'd play with kids his own age. They'd be talking about a new toy, and if Tommy didn't care, he'd leave. Then ten minutes later I'd get a knock on the door and the kids would be all, "Where did Tommy go?" I explain to him time and time again that if he wants to leave, he should at least say goodbye.


--He Gets Confused When Someone Is Upset


An uncomfortable look passes over his face. Sometimes he'll flee. Other times he keeps repeating, "I don't know what to do. Are you okay? Do you still love me?" Sometimes he'll give me a side hug. A pat on the head. Then, "Could you please stop crying?"


--He's Picky About What He'll Eat



He makes the above face a lot. He knows what he likes. This includes pizza, spaghetti, sloppy joes, and tacos. Not much more. I once made beef stew and he gagged. He tried some chicken I prepared and spit it right out. He doesn't enjoy things like mashed potatoes, pot roast, hot dogs, or ravioli. He's not a huge fan of ice cream because it's too cold for his mouth. If he gets married, his wife is going to have to be very patient with him.



--He's Not A Genius


Sometimes when people find out that Tommy has Aspergers, they ask if he's a math genius. He's not. In fact, a small percentage of people with autism are geniuses. Tommy is just a typical kid--he struggles with math and reading. He loves learning about the weather and can tell you all about the different clouds. He'll become obsessed with different subjects, and then move on to another. When he was 5, he was obsessed with the human body. He'd tell people that their food traveled down their esophagus and would discuss what the intestines did.


--He Arm Flaps Or Crashes On His Bed To Calm Down


If you don't have someone with autism in your life, seeing a kid flap constantly might be a little disconcerting. I'm used to it now. Tommy also will constantly crash into the couch or his bed. This helps calm him down. He craves the sensation of something against his body. Sometimes he hugs me too hard, which I'm okay with, because some kids with autism don't like to be touched. When he's crashing or arm flapping, he usually is humming.



--He Has Anxiety



Tommy has social anxiety and anxiety all together. He worries constantly. He worries kids think he's weird. He worries that I don't love him if he gets a bad grade. He worries he's going to die. He worries if he hits his arm that it's going to somehow stop working. He worries that he'll never get married because a woman will never get him. He worries that the people on Facebook who aren't 13 are completely breaking the rules. He worries, worries, worries. I have to constantly re-assure him. He'll ask the same question over and over again, even if I've answered it five minutes ago. It's just who he is. And that's okay. He's my boy.


(Oh, and did I mention Tommy was blunt?)

28 comments:

  1. This is Jayce, to a "T". I remember the vet being so upset because Jayce wasn't reacting to our dog dying by crying. He was asking medical questions about her. He was 6.

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  2. Your lighthearted take is refreshing.

    So many are so serious.

    This is cool. =)

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  3. My daughter doesn't have autism, she has 5p- syndrome, aka Cri du Chat syndrome. But so many of the mannerisms associated with 5p- are very similar to those of the autism spectrum. She's a hand flapper, she has social issues, etc. But she's my girl and like you, I'll do whatever it takes to help her get through it all.

    Love this post.

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  4. This is interesting to read some of the basic facts - I think Tommy sounds like a delightful young man. I would love to have a truly honest opinion (at least occasionally!).

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  5. You make it easier to understand...and in such an easygoing way. I think reading something like this immediately makes someone feel more at ease around an issue that most of us don't understand all that well. Thank you.

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  6. Michelle hit the nail on the head. Your easygoing take makes it all make sense. I feel like I get this in a way I didn't before.
    My son isn't autistic, but he has terrible anxiety. You just nailed that. He worries about *all* of those things, too. It's intense. He's gotten better as he's gotten older, but every now and then he will let out an anxiety about something like "he's worried there won't be time to walk from his locker to his class even though he's 20 minute early" and I realize how difficult things really can be each day.

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  7. Your son sounds like a sweet boy : )

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  8. Very insightful. Thanks for sharing your son with us in this way! My kids are blunt and they don't have Asperger's, so he may just fit in that way. :)

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  9. This is so insightful, and I do appreciate the lighthearted but honest look at what is surely a struggle.
    He's your boy and he's amazing.

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  10. there are so many different degrees of Aspergers. You just have to learn what works best for each child. Tommy sounds like a great kid! Good job Mom and Dad

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  11. Okay the “do you still love me” made me a little sad, but then “could you please stop crying” made me laugh. I don’t know what this means but the leaving without saying goodbye, picky eating, brutal honesty, the “bored” mid-convo, sounds exactly like my husband. My good friend has a step-son with autism and he doesn’t like to be touched at all. I think the tight hugs you get are pretty sweet. I wish I could take Tommy’s worrying away, of all things I think that would take a toll on me as a mom. It makes my heart warm how well you know your son and how you reassure him. You’re a sweetie!

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  12. I love that you can write about this lightly, it actually makes it easier for me to understand rather than all the medical terms. I wont to be able to understand whats going on ya know. I also see alot of those traits in my kids that do not have autism... sometimes its just boyism lol thanks for sharing this.

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  13. This is so interesting and insightful!

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  14. An amazing way to share with us what a peek inside their world truly looks like -- and with a side of humour. because if you got to walk the tight rope of life - why not choose humour as your balance bar?

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  15. Yes.

    I still call it Asperger's too.

    Brutally honest, to say the least. My son once told me not to buy a shirt because it made me look like Kirby after he sucked someone into his mouth. My son is also completely literal. He does not understand sarcasm or figurative speech.

    Picky eating? Check. My son also dislikes potatoes in any form other than chip, ravioli freaks him out and he won't touch anything in soup form.

    Fixation. Yup. My son can sit and discuss Pearl Harbor and World War Two better than some historians. He said he would chose a trip to Pearl Harbor over a trip to Disney. Go figure.

    The joys of living with someone with Autism.

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  16. Beautiful post. Thanks for your words. I too can relate to much of it. My son has Fragile X.

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  17. I still think of it as Asperger's too and think it makes more sense to have a difference. My 16yo step son has Asperger's and my own 4 1/2 year old son is probably on the spectrum, although we don't know where yet. I love that you have such humor and a great attitude about it all - because you're right. We should laugh about the laughable stuff. Also I find it interesting that your son likes the beef stuff, as mine won't even TRY beef, and loves chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and cheese. Everything else, except fruit is "nasty icky." Love this post!

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  18. I can actually relate to a couple of these even though I'm not autistic. You tell Tommy that NO ONE is perfect. :)

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  19. Great post. I agree with all the comments! Your easy going style makes it easier for people who don't have this first-hand knowledge to gain understanding. But also, it is so easy to see more examples of how Tommy is a great kid. And how is he loving tornado season now that it is in full swing? Hopefully it will be much calmer than the terrible season last year. :)

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  20. You need to follow princess burlap blog google it

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  21. I read the last post before this one and as I read this one, I was thinking, see, that's why YOU are Tommy's mom and not the lady in the restaurant. Because if Mrs. TASTE IT!! was Tommy's mom, he'd be projectile vomiting in the restaurant because she forced him to eat something weird.
    But you get him. =)

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  22. I love posts like this. It gives those of us who don't live with autism a glimpse into your world. I know that there must be times when you aren't able to be so "light" when speaking about it but you seem to have a really good attitude. Thank you for sharing.

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  23. My sister's 14 year old son has Asperger's also, and this sounds like him to a T. Love your humorous take - she hears so many negative things - I'm going to refer her to your site. Have a great weekend!

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  24. Thanks for sharing! Some of your points made me smile! I would like to walk away from conversations when I am bored!

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  25. Truly a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing. You are a wonderful Mom!

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  26. Thank you for a peak not only into your life but for help us better understand autism! We all have learned something from you!

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  27. I have a son with autism, and many sweet friends with Asperger's. Most of them have the funniest, most delightfully unusual sense of humor. I love it.

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  28. Tommy is lucky to have such a wonderful, understanding mother!

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Thanks for the comment!

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