Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Do Sharks Have Autism?

     Recently (which is my way of saying months ago,) my son was playing in the bathtub.  In the midst of all the washing and splashing and tra-la-la-ing, something happened that made my stomach drop.  My dear, sweet, perfect, lovely, made of muffins, angel baby looked up at me and asked, "Mommy, what's different?" Now, I've always found it difficult to explain the definitions of words to people.  It's pretty much my only flaw.  Nonetheless, I stuttered and hmmmed and hawed my way through an explanation.  Success!  He seemed to be picking up what I was laying down.  However, my figurative (and maybe literal) self back-patting came to a screeching halt when I heard his follow-up question.  "Mommy, why am I different?"
     Cue heart breaking and dramatic music.  It has been almost a year now since Skeletor was diagnosed as Autistic, but at this point we had not yet had The Talk with him.  I knew it was coming, but I just didn't think it would be so soon.  I would have explained it all to him as soon as we left the doctor's office last May, but he didn't possess the communication skills.  (He's come a long way in speech therapy!)  Also, I'm chicken, and I was scared of scarring him for life with the utter debacle I was sure to make of my explanation.
     So, in complete terror, I kind of half-assed my way through the standard "everyone is different, and that's a good thing" speech.  But I could tell Skeletor wasn't completely satisfied with this answer.  Another, more in depth conversation would be coming soon.  I must away to the interwebs!  I knew that I wanted to start the conversation by reading him a book about Autism (see above poultry-like attributes,) but which one to pick?  Although there doesn't seem to be an over-abundance of books on the subject, I was still stuck.  I wanted it to be perfect.  After much research and study-age and such, I finally decided on "Ben Has Autism.  Ben Is Awesome."

You can find the book by clicking this here linky-poo.
   
     I ordered the book and awaited its arrival with bated breath.  It was a lovely little book, and served its purpose by setting us up for The Talk.  After we finished reading it, I dove in head first.  I reminded Skeletor of our "why am I different" conversation.  And then I just said it.  I told him that he has Autism, which is why he gets so upset sometimes and has trouble staying still (among other things.)  And I also told him that Autism is part of what makes him so absolutely gangster (our household word for cooler than being cool.)  I'm sure other things of the deep and meaningful variety were said, but it's kind of all a blur.  But the one thing that I will never forget?  After I stressed myself out so badly over this talk, the very first thing that popped out of his mouth when I asked him if he had any questions was, "Do sharks have Autism?"  I repeat, the kid is perfection.

Pictured: hilarity.

12 comments:

  1. Oh I love that they're writing books for children to understand this. I'll have to tell my sister in law. My nephew has autism.

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    1. Yeah, if they didn't have a book for me to jump off from, things probably would have been a lot more slow going. And, in keeping with my pattern, I got the book "My Friend Has Autism" to read to his class. They seemed to like it.

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  2. Good job- sounds like you handled it very well. Btw, "All Cats Have Aspergers" is a REALLY great book for explaining Autism. I mean, in that whole, "let's explain autism to a literal thinking child by way of analogy."

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    1. I've seen that book, but I wasn't sure about it. Everything in me wanted it to be worth a read because I loved the title!

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  3. I remember that conversation...it was worse than the sex talk. I keep telling myself that because we've not yet had the sex talk. I basically blurted it out too and his response? "Ohh, that's nice. You going to finish that nugget?"

    I still count it as a win.

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    1. Damn skippy, that's a win! I envisioned wailing and gnashing of teeth and a deep existential crisis of some sort. I don't know why, as he pretty much reserves that for when it's time to turn off Youtube.

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  4. Well, damn.

    First of all? That was freaking awesome. The preliminary "everyone is different and that's cool." Ben's book, is awesome, too.

    You know what? I'm such an ass and so freaking ignorant of everything that I never thought about this aspect of parenting someone who is different. We're all different. But processing differently is something that people (adults, kids, and the processor himself) will notice as [help: I don't know the right superlative...more than slightly? markedly? minorly? substantially?] different. I knew parents of children will different kinds of limbs or digits or hearing or vision have some physical demarcation of different had to have The Talk.

    But I'm such an ass I never thought about The Talk with autistic children. My friend had The Talk with her daughter about an autistic brother. But it never occurred to me she'll have to have it with the boy, himself.

    Thanks for the book rec.

    And congratulations. You're way beyond impressive. I think you're fooling yourself about the chicken thing. This read as FIERCE.

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  5. Yes! I've always wanted to be described as fierce! Mark one more thing off my bucket list. But you are definitely not an ass, because it didn't occur to me either at first. And when it did I was freaking terrified!

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  6. I think books are the best means to educate and explain to your child. Not only they are colorful, but are likewise enjoyable to read. I’m pretty sure your child will understand. Each of us is may be different from each other. But each of us is special and loved.

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    1. So very true. Plus books are just all around awesome!

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  7. "Recently (which is my way of saying months ago)"---Me, too. The blog is always delayed by at least a month.

    I'm glad you found that book!

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad I'm not the only one!

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