Thursday, June 24, 2010

Things autism has taught me 2...

It's been a while, and I seem to remember promising myself I'd do this every so often.

It's been a tough few days, only because both Billy and I are sick with a nasty cold and have been homebound all week. Billy illness is ALWAYS preceded with a day when I find myself feeling angry with him, because he gets snotty and snarky. And Billy is the least snotty and snarky person on the planet. Seriously, think Dalai Lama and double it. So when he suddenly morphs into a member of the Gossip Girl cast, we know the germs are winning. Then, the next day, the germs have generally also launched an attack of one of the tall folk as well.

So, from my mucous filled brain,  here's my new list of the things autism has taught me.

1. Chaos is lurking around every corner
But there's no point fearing it, 'cos you sure as hell cannot control it. Just now, I was on the phone. Kids came door knocking to raise funds for their sports team, the dog went nuts, Billy burst into tears. It's hard to know which decision to make first. Consequently, I make no decisions at all and end up a complete mess. Then as quickly as it started, it's over. I read a similar story involving doorbell, poop in the bath, naked slippery toddlers and the like on a friend's FB status the other day.  But it's going to happen. Maybe I should call it Kanner's Law - autistic determinism. If one bad thing happens, at least three more will pile on top making a chain of meltdown triggers.

2. Bad isn't necessarily bad
Yesterday, Billy came to a meeting with me. He's sick, I'm sick. He was quietly spinning in an office chair to amuse himself, and made himself throw up. Bizarrely, being the vomit hater I am, I managed to catch most of an entire vomit in my hands. There's so much to say about this incident but the reality is that I was first thrilled that he got dizzy enough to vomit. He's struggled to register vestibular change all his life and now... he's registering it. In my hands... and just a little on the office chair that is now living outside for a few days.

3. You will not win an argument, so end them as quickly as you can
Was it Dr Phil who said, don't get into confrontations with your kids, but if you do, make sure you win? Well, clearly he hasn't met a verbal autistic child. There are so may slippery slopes for the grown up in this one. My favourite is the 'Yes, it is' response. Thrown at you after statements like, 'No, we can't go to McDonalds again because it's not open', or 'You can't have that expensive toy, it's not your birthday'. It's not just being cheeky (though there's a bit of that in there for sure). It's more that after a short brief period of lucidity before the spiral thinking kicks in, what your autistic child wants is actually 100% irrefutably, completely possible. The bigger point of the argument is lost in the smaller part of logic that says 'we are talking about it, so it is'. I feel another law coming on... Hans' Law: I speak, therefore I am right.

And let's face it, most of us waited a loooong time to have the privilege of being harangued illogically. So many of us are still waiting, that it truly seems churlish to complain. Instead, we just give up, grip the steering wheel (so many of these arguments happen in the car.. maybe it's the lack of eye contact?) and helpfully say non-committal things like, 'OK' and 'We'll talk about it later.' And when I say helpful, I mean opening the gates to loopy conversational hell.

4. You will never complete your Thomas collection (Pokemon collection, Transformers collection, Dinosaur collection, Star Wars collection... you get the idea)
There's always something new to buy, find on ebay, look up on Amazon, covet in toy shops and in other kids' toy boxes. Don't worry. Your child will always find another level of purchase, another evolution of thing, another genre. Even if you run out of toys or items in that line, you will be amazed how another passionate love will emerge. It feels like you are always close to an ending, but fear not, the love will go on and on. I call this one Celine's Law.

5. YouTube is proof the autistic population is growing
When Billy was five, we made a movie set to a Thomas song and uploaded it to You Tube. To date, over 400, 000 people have watched it. And Billy's Thomas movies are by no means the most popular. Some of the others have over a million hits. Thomas movies. Kids with cameras crashing their trains into other trains, and blocks and dogs. A million hits and counting. Then there's the mash up. Thomas vision cut to the audio from a Simpson's episode, or a scene from The Lion King or Piglet's Big Movie... Who thinks of these things? Who has the time an the knowledge and the passion to match to completely separate televisual concepts perfectly? Autistic people, and their friends, that's who. Seriously... it's visual. It's repetitive. It's familiar. It's screen based. It's meticulous. It's funny. It's content driven and infinite in its depth and reach. It is the autistic mind laid out on the internet, which is pretty autistic itself.

I do not mean, in any way, to sound disrespectful or flippant here. I seriously think it's awesome. I don't think it's scary or pathetic.  And I don't think kids should be outside playing with their friends and not doing this stuff. I think it's cool and worthy. And just because I've said it, it must be true.

Oh dear... I've been hanging out with Billy a little too much this week, haven't I?


DQ said...

Ah, yes, I am illogically harangued on a daily basis, and yes, I once longed for communication in a huge way. Now? Well, at least he can argue illogically very eloquently, indeed! We also encounter Hans' Law every day, and are already frequent observers of Celine's Law.

Thanks, apart from being incredibly accurate, I laughed out loud good and proper.
And more thanks for your comments over on my post from today, I like the double vision/double insight idea!

Ro said...

I so loath those nonsense arguments.
I actually pull the plug on Aspie teen with "Cos I say so, yes, I'm a bitch, get over it, I did, end of story".
Then he does the goldfish impersonation lol.
Sometimes this doesn't work.
Collections?! OMG my hubby is STILL collecting them (he's on the spectrum, too) except those sci-fi fan conventions are at the more expensive level arrrr!

Anonymous said...

your posts keep getting better and better!
And Ro, I have a 45 yr old aspie with the biggest star wars Lego collection that keeps ongrowing....hmmmmmm

Anonymous said...

love it! I have those arguments with my daughter almost daily (lol) but she never stops and it drives me crazy.

The vomit story was my fav ;)

Jenni said...

You are SO funny Valerie! I love you! And I can't wait till September (or is it August?) when we finally get to meet!

Lisa said...

What on earth did the spectrum community do before the interwebs? Technology and spectrum just *go* together.

Little do the rest of the world know, but all this technology is being invented by Spectre(um) as part of a cunning plan for autistic world domination.

Never again will people live in horrible face to face communities with stupid unreadable social rules.