Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Musing--my Aspie and his instincts...

Let's face it, most Aspies are quirky and have social defecits. It is just who they are, my own philosophy is to just accept my son for who he is, and to help him to understand the nuances of social communication as best as I can. Sure my son needs social skills groups, art therapy, a behaviorist, speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy, but so do a lot of other children.  There has been speculation that some of the great figures in history my have also been Asperger's or on the spectrum. They survived and thrived and so will my child.

There are many times where my son's social defecits are painfully obvious. He has poor pragmatic language and expressive language skills. This is obvious when it's time to 'share jokes'. At least he has his old standby that he knows is funny and why. (Where do cows go on dates? To the moo-vies.) Other times he hears a joke and is confused but laughs because the others are laughing.  His social awkwardness shows when he meets a new group of children. As he gets older, social nuances are more confusing.

However, my son does have good instincts. Even from his preschool years. My dad used to get upset when he'd pick my son up from day care and the boys would be playing on one side of the classroom and the girls would be playing in the kitchen area. Little Boy Blue would be playing with the girls, complete with apron.  It would be frustrating for my father, but at least he only verbalized this to my mother and me and never interfered.  He found out why when he came a bit earlier to pick up Blue.  The boys would be ripping toys out of each other's hands, tackling, and beating each other over the head with plastic dinosaurs. The girls would help my son in play, and even let him choose his role. They were more mild in their pretend play. My father came home that night, and said "Now I know why (Blue) plays with the girl, he's smart. The boys are out of control and always in time-out. (Blue) knows how ot stay out of trouble."

When he was 4 & 5 my son played instructional soccer. He's a little clumsy and had some difficulty with the various skills. Soccer simply didn't hold his attention.  Occasionally he'd have a shot on goal, however it was because another player went down. My son would stop and make sure the other child was okay and help them up (regardless if they were on the other team).  His coach who was working on getting my son's 'head in the game', turned to me and said "Well daydreaming we can work on, but I don't want to change his empathy and care for others."  I just smiled. At 4 my son would rather give up a goal to help another child.  That is something you cannot teach, no matter how hard you try.

Flash forward to the present day.   Each child in the social skills group has their own challenge, but over the 10 sessions they often make a friend.  In the first group, my son gravitated towards this young girl (his age). Some would think it was because the other boys in the group were more aggressive and over the top, but it turned out this girl really needed a friend.  Not only was she a foster child who's original home was out of state, later I found out that there was more to the story. This young girl has had an extremely difficult time in her short life.  The mom approached me a few weeks into the session to tell me how her foster daughter gushed about her new friend Blue. She said how much she apprieciated my son's befriending her.  She has a very hard time making friends since she was so isolated in her birth family.  This little girl needed a friend, and that friend was my son.

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