“Typical” Does Not Exist Here

I have two children, though generally, I only discuss my youngest boy on this blog as he is the one diagnosed with autism. My other son is six years older and not “typical” either. My oldest son has a label of his own, they call him gifted. I actually know a lot more about ‘gifted’ children than I do autism if only because I, myself, bore that label for a time in my life (though I think it had more to do with the way my parents raised and taught me: I’m bright, but not the same way my son and mother are and were bright) and my mother was a brilliant, if socially awkward woman.

Not to long ago I was having a discussion with a friend with kids on the spectrum and she remarked how similar D can behave sometimes. She’s not so far from the truth of it. He’s an in your face, in your space kid with an imagination that rivals pretty much everyone I’ve ever met except maybe myself. Like some kids on the spectrum, he too sounds like a little professor, skillfully managing conversations that some adults I know would have trouble following. The problem with D is that too many adults have told him just how smart he is and his ego, his absolute knowledge that he is right gets in the way sometimes, especially with other children his age.

D has been a huge help to us since his brother’s diagnosis. He feels some responsibility to help with treatments and therapies. To help guide his brother. D has been a huge help with Logan. I explain what I’m doing and why I’m doing it and D helps with modeling or prompting, depending on what activity we’re working on. There have been times when Logan absolutely refused to do something with or for me, but turned right around and did it for his brother. D takes it upon himself to add to what we’re working on all by himself, pushing forward to subjects I hadn’t given a thought to. It is because of D’s working with him that Logan can do simple addition very well.

D is one of the reasons it took so long for us to get Logan diagnosed. The “typical” milestones were not something we had experienced before. D was early with everything except his motor skills. Early to talk, early to read, and a capacity to retain it all with little effort. We assumed for a very long time that there was nothing unusual at all about Logan, beyond his reflux, sensitive skin, and standoffishness. We had no way of knowing when the milestones typically happened.

It is interesting to watch my boys, their similarities, their differences. D relies far more on logic than Logan does. For D, the universe, even humanity, has laws and, when things do not go the way logic would dictate they do, he wants to know why, to understand what laws bend and what laws break. There is a logic to people, their behaviors, their actions, and their words, even if they don’t realize it. The trick is understand that logic, interpreting it, because it does not always seem logical. In a way, it’s like raising an emotional Spock (a reference I make as both a trekkie and an absolute fan of Spock and Leonard Nimoy).

When we first had Logan diagnosed, I found myself answering yes for many things about D as well. Technically, I don’t think the ‘Gifted’ label has been officially applied as we’ve never taken him to a professional outside the school system to do so. To be honest, it isn’t that important. Except for the fact that he needs the additional work at school through their gifted program to keep from being bored, I would far prefer he never knew his own label. It’s one that can divide him from his peers as suredly as other labels like autism or aspergers. He is socially awkward, not because he doesn’t know how to communicate or doesn’t understand boundaries. He is socially awkward because he has not yet learned how to hold his tongue when he knows the answers, or how to judge what others around him are interested in. Not everyone wants to talk about rocks, computers, or the awesomeness that was Ben Franklin. Someday, he will understand that, when the impetuous nature of youth has passed.

For now, I do what I can do with them both, using each to help the other grow. Logan learns to play and pretend and D learns to accept that not everything will follow the same logic and how to step back in a situation and focus on the needs of someone else.  From them both, I learn so much about love, learning, life, joy, and persistence.

I don’t think I’d know what to do with a “typical” child and I can’t imagine changing either of my kids – would it be easier? of course! But oh the things I’d miss out on! My kids need each other, work with each other in ways I still find myself amazed by, hope to always find myself amazed by.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. The Zenful Blogger
    Jan 09, 2011 @ 12:00:16

    Hello! I just wanted to share my latest post with you regarding the Post 21 Club in Northern, NJ, an awesome organization that raises program funding for young adults with Autism. I was able to donate a little time and money yesterday. Check it out: http://wp.me/pXkng-29 . Peace. TZB

    Reply

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