Thursday, September 28, 2006

It really is Real

When People think of Autism, they thing of kids staring off into space, maybe with a football helmet on to protect them as they spin around on the floor or bang their heads on the wall. Or they thing of “Rainman”, a movie with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. Raymond (Rainman) was the older brother who was sent to an institution when it was feared he might hurt his baby brother. Raymond was exceptionally good at math, but had poor social skills, had rigid routines, swayed back and forth and had a flat tone of voice. Raymond was somewhere along the Autism spectrum which ranges from severely affected, to very high functioning. A high functioning autistic who might have Aspergers, may look just like anyone else, or might have a peculiar gate, but even though his disability isn’t as visible, trust me it is just as challenging and oh so evident in the lives of many of us, just as diabetes or asthma is to others.

I was once told, that autistics live in their own world but those with Aspergers live in the world, just in our own way.

I was also told once by a social worker at my kids’ last school, that Aspergers was rare. There was no arguing with this person, who reminded me every other sentence that she was the mental health professional. (My doctor thought this was extremely funny). This “mental health professional” needs to go back to school. One in every 166 kids is autistic. There are 4 in my family. That doesn’t sound very rare to me.

There have been many theories about the cause of Autism and Aspergers and suggested reasons for the rapid increase that we are seeing now. NBC even did a story about the Autism epidemic, which I tried to tell the “mental health professional” but she wasn’t listening. Some have blamed the preservative in childhood vaccinations. Some say it is genetic. Others say that, since the increase in technology jobs, people who are not good with dealing with other people socially can thrive at a job on a computer. Also it is now very possible that an Aspergers male may meet a like minded Aspergers girl in the next cubical, marry and have more possible Aspergers kids.

So is the world now doomed to having a bunch of us Aspies running around? It could be worse. The people that are diagnosed by the public as having an awful lot of Aspergers like traits would amaze you. The one I always like to mention is Bill Gates. Now while I like to Hate Billy boy, especially when my computer is acting up, think of where we would be if he didn’t think out of the box the way he did. Watch the pirates of Silicon Valley sometime. You might hate him more but you will come to see the method behind the guy.

My biggest problem with Aspergers isn’t the condition itself but getting the world to realize that it exists and that it is real. I was once accused by that same “mental health professional” of making up the kids’ diagnosis. Her words were .”Do they have a formal diagnosis?” Emphasis on the word formal. This was in response to some special things I had asked for to help them adjust to a new environment. I so badly wanted to say. No lady, I just read Readers Digest and this is the disease of the month. Geez.

Personally, I wouldn’t want my kids any other way. They are cute and adorable and really hate it when they do something wrong. If I can get the rest of the world to just lighten up and just listen to them, they would enjoy them as much as I do

Chicago, Chicago

Returned from Robin’s to find the city ravaged by a freak storm. I love storms, but this one had 90 mile an hour winds and much of the area is still without power. A nice side effect is that Mike got to stay home today. There is no power at his place of employment either. Made it much easier to catch up on my sleep.

Visiting my daughter is always  great. When we visit her, I get to spend more time talking with her like we used to and I thoroughly enjoy that, but I always leave feeling like I disappoint her. This is just dumb, because she says I don't. 

During part of her Lamaze class, which was why I was there, her instructor excused a portion of the film that was objectionable to most of the new moms, as being made on the west coast. Robin took exception to this under her breath because she considers herself a Californian! The cold winters in Chicago were quite a change.

We had talked earlier about her teenage years and her older brother’s too. I said that I was always worried that they would bring friends home and they would think we were the wrong class. She did ask what I meant, and I replied, that I was afraid they wouldn’t think we were in the same class level as they were. Certainly not as high class or rich as her in laws were. Her in laws of course felt quite at home when they visited. That made me feel better.  It reminded me of the 20th high school reunion we went to.  All the stuck up kids were really friendly. One of the kids who got teased the most was practically a millionaire.  Sometimes being smart has it's perks.

That's the problem with Aspergers. As a child my self esteem was very low, which is why I guess, I felt I wasn't good enough for the kids' friends and new family. My dad was a perfectionist ( I suspect he had Aspergers a bit too now). When I talked nonstop especially about something we learned at school, I was accused of being book smart and life dumb. I hated that, but perhaps some of it is or was true. Not understanding the nuances of social interactions, I probably did appear to be a bit backwards. I remember once being told I was pretty. Boy did I  get trouble for responding. "I know".

No one knew about Aspergers then of course and mostly I got told to not talk so much or so fast. Competing with all brothers in a male dominated family was rough. I had important things to say and dang it why didn't they listen? So I read a lot, like now and taught myself much of what I know. I am a sponge that way.  Go ahead ask me anything.  I'm liable to ask you how much time you have. :-)