Monday, April 14, 2014

Parent to Parent Tip #6 - Literally Abstract

I am a literal thinker, so I know firsthand how daunting it can be to see abstract meanings. As a result of my brilliance (ha ha), I decided to teach my son, as best I could, the art of abstract thinking. Not the best idea...

A couple months I showed my son all of the locations we have for tissue in the house. You know...kind of like knowing all of the trash cans locations. You have choices. You don't have to go to the same place to do the same thing. Okay...whatever. Anyway, I did this because allergy season was coming. We both have allergies and pollen is one of our biggest issues. My son is very particular about things touching his nose. A runny nose is very uncomfortable for him. In the past he used to come to me, holding his nose outward as if keeping it as far away from his body as possible. I'd get a tissue, place it in his hand and ask him to clean his nose. He's gotten very good at it. So good that he even handles the occasional nose bleed well. He doesn't seek my help anymore.

Now that we've established another use for tissue, I have to watch my son's usage. He tends to take large wads of tissue to dab one drop of moisture from his nose. He doesn't like for anything he considers unnatural to touch his hands, which lead to the speech about usage and the fact that tissue is not free and we need not be wasteful.

Just the other day, while putting up laundry I noticed that we used more towels than usual. We always have a huge load of towels, but the past couple week’s loads have been steadily increasing. I wondered why so many towels were being used. I've since figured out what the culprit is. My son, being the thinker that he is, putting 2 and 2 together, decided to use bath towels instead of tissue to wipe his nose. They are readily available, washable and soft to the touch. Not to mention, they are large enough to keep any offending substance from touching his hands. He must be wiping his nose one time and putting the towel in the laundry. At least it appears that way. Last night he must have had several runny nose incidents. How do I know? There were 4 more large bath towels in the laundry. The largest ones we have. How do I undo this!!! I'm trying to explain to him to use the tissue for his nose and not the towels. Is there such a thing as being literally abstract? Oh well, laundry day is tomorrow. Happy Monday!

So my tip for the day is... Think about the broader scope of what it means to teach the inquisitive, experimental, abstract and still literal thinking autistic child. You just may encounter some of the most inconvenient, intriguing, ingenious moments that you never saw coming. This reminds me of the time I talked to my son about wasting food. Later that night I found a mountain of spaghetti in the dog dish. I guess he didn't want to throw good food away? It's a good thing I got to it before Ginger did. Oh my goodness! I shudder to think. What on earth will my son come up with next?!


Autism is, being bullied just because you see things differently or do things differently.

Autism is, when you have to suppress who you are in order to be accepted, even though those who claim to accept you may never really like you.

Autism is, when you see people around you acting funny as if something is wrong; you wonder what is causing them to act that way only to find later that it was you they were reacting to.

Autism is, the shame and embarrassment parents feel when friends question their child's behaviors. Many children are punished for behaviors they cannot control.

Autism is, suddenly screaming at a friend who was angered because you are confused about an emotion they've shown attached to something they've said which does not make sense, so you inquire and they take it wrong.

Autism is, being so desperate for friends that you are willing to buy things in order to entice friendships, but still devastated years later when your "friends" tell you they were only using you.

Autism is, when family members don't want to be around you anymore because you have absolutely nothing in common. It is as if being shunned for bad behavior or becoming a pre-teen or teen means you've aged-out of being accepted.

Autism is, when your 5th grade teacher doesn't question why you walked out of the classroom nor does she make any attempt to call you back.

Autism is, being left behind, forgotten, ignored. It is a lacking. The lack of ability for people to see your beauty, truth, intelligence and viability.

Please be more accepting of people and their differences.