Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A List of Things...

I've been thinking lately about things that could generally make my family's life easier.  Things I wish the public at large could understand and implement in relation to  Asperger's / Autism.  Turns out it is quite a list,  infinite...but there area some little things that could be considered to be my top 5 wish list. (insert throat clearing noises here....)
  1. Eye Contact: If you know that my boy has autism, you may be tempted to really fight for eye contact while speaking to him.  I recognize that it is an important communication tool for you, but it's not for him.  He'll make it if he feels like it. He'll make it if he wants to.  He's likely to make it if he is comfortable.  If he doesn't, that's okay.  Eye contact can be physically uncomfortable for peole with autism, kind of like asking you not to blink.   And, eye contact can be overated.
  2. Repetition: Most people are not aware, that many people with autism have an auditory processing delay.  This means that it literally take s a moment for what's been said to sink in.  So, please wait appropriately.  Saying his name 5 times in a row will just slow down this process, confuse the system, and he won't even bother trying to listen, because he's already learned to tune you out, you are overwhelming. You are confusing.  Similarily, and ohhhh so importantly, if we are speaking to him, please do not misinterpret this delay in response as disobedience, and feel the need to join in in with what we're saying.  This leaves him confused...and us annoyed! (sorry...but true)
  3. It's all good:  This one is for professionals who work with children with autism.  Yes, there are many social skills our kids need so that they can make friends, take part and get along with others.  But, please do not have your goal as trying to "fix" everything about our kids.  It's okay that Aiden has Asperger's.  It's okay that he is different.  Not everything different should be fixed.  Not everything different is wrong.  So, professionals..pick what skills need to be developed, and which behaviours need to be modified.  And then,  learn to appreciate, and respect diversity.  (whew...that felt gooooood.))
  4. Relax, Enjoy:  If you're around my boy, or any other person with autism, just relax, and enjoy the experience.  Like you would interacting with any other little boy.  Not everything is about autism. (I'm still working on this one myself.)  Don't feel like you have to be cross referencing his behaviours with something you have heard about, or believe to be true of autism. Just enjoy his company, it's okay to be interested in him, because Asperger's Syndrome is really interesting.  But, he's just a boy, and he deserves, and needs casual, enjoyable interactions.  So, just chat, hang out, enjoy.    Remember, autism is only part of a person.
  5. Public Meltdowns:  If you read my blog, or know anybody who has a child with Asperger's, then you know that meltdowns happen.  They come fast, and they come furious.  They don't always come often, but their magnitude makes up for that!  So, if you see a child melting down in public, please do not pass judgement.  You have no idea what has happened, and you may not even understand that this is not something that can be rationalized.  This is no time to try to "talk some sense" into the kid.  And generally, strangers getting involved can definately exasperate the situation.  So, no matter what you're thinking to yourself about the kid's behaviour, or the way the parent is handling it, please do not pass judgement.  This is a minor inconvieneince in your peaceable existance, and a big part of our family life.  So, please, be tolerant for a few moments, because we have to practise tolerance and patience more than you could imagine.  However, a kindly smile would not be construed as interference.  And it might feel nice.


  1. Oh my goodness, you have just wrote out what I have been thinking for some time. Thank You!! I completely agree with each one and can relate. We are still working towards official diagnosis for 3 of my 4 children and that in itself is frustrating. Anyway, this is a great post.

  2. Thanks Ang....I think a lot of us feel this way! Good luck with your diagnosis, I remember the frustration we felt during that process as well.

  3. My son and I had a conversation about his cousin who has autism today. My son is 4 and is very much aware that Tyler is different. Today we talked about how his brain works different. My oldest said, "Yeah, because he makes funny noises and stuff." We then talked about how different is OK and that there are other kids who also have autism. My son's aunt has Down Syndrome. They verbalized that she is different yet, but I think it isn't has hard because she is relational and older and they aren't expecting her to play with them like their cousin.