Monday, April 5, 2010

Here we go, acting like a 'normal' family...

As we all recover from chocolate poisoning (how is it that something so good can make such unpleasant things happen...?), I'm wondering if it's OK to say that we had a pretty 'normal' easter.

My lovely friend from long ago (thank you, Facebook) invited us to her house to have an easter egg hunt. Billy was thrilled, for lots of reasons. He loves my friend, he loves easter eggs and he really loves that her teenage son has a collection of 'old style' Thomas trains.

So, the grown ups got to BBQ and sip grown up drinks, while Billy found eggs and played trains.

I'll pay the fact that it's a very Billy style event (no kids, lots of trains). To be honest, I'm quite proud of that fact.

Because in this autism game, what we hope he learns is that who is is, is just fine. He's not always going to be able to be 100% comfortable, but wherever we can, we will make an effort to make things work for him. I do not subscribe to the theory (if you're a regular reader flip over this bit, because I'm sure I've said it before) that 'he has to learn sometime, so we may as well start now'. I believe he has to learn his way, and he has to learn what he is capable if learning. Lord knows, plenty of NT individuals never learn basic qualities like oh... compassion, honesty, empathy... and somehow, that's OK with society.

The idea is that Billy functions, learns, grows best when he is calm... Lots of little kids culture is not the sort of stuff that immediately screams the word 'calm' to Billy. So we don't force him to be in the middle of it, all the time. Mostly, we find a way for him to observe from a safe distance, and join in when he feels equipped to do so.  It means he may never be one of those kids screaming through the McDonalds play place, but I have a feeling neither he or us or society are losing much by accepting that.

The big picture idea, is this... Billy should develop skills to keep himself calm. Over time, he should learn to make most of those decisions himself, in the same way that protective behaviour is learned by any child. He's been given a body and a brain that are not naturally inclined towards calm in social situations, and so his life journey is in understanding that he will not die in the crowd at a basketball game, or in the darkness of the cinema or (god forbid) away from home at a sleepover.

And on easter Sunday, he had a calm social experience. We are lucky enough to have accepting and compassionate friends, who not only let him be, but who actively create situations where Billy's needs are at the forefront. I'm really thankful for those friends. Thank you, friends.

I know I'm supposed to be thinking about more traditionally spiritual qualities at easter, but I feel a bit like we got a good dose of those qualities this weekend... and we got to have a couple of beers as well.



Ro said...

We have done the same over the years with our boy and he's beginning to cope with huge crowds (like the World Autism Awareness Day march in Melb last week) not too badly :)
You do what you feel is right ;)

CindyPDX said...


I love reading your outstanding blog. I've been glued to it because many of the things you say is EXACTLY how I feel about our son Cameron.
You've written the most incredible song I've ever heard, now you need to write book..and if you do, please be sure folks in the USA can buy it! I'll be first in line!