Part of the beauty of raising an autistic child, is the little idiosyncracies that accompany them. We can always tell when Simon is doing something relaxing, because we hear this low toning from the other room…..”Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.” It could be mistaken for the moan of a zombie and it is strangely similar to what I sounded like, during labor, in the middle of a contraction. Whenever we hear that noise, we always check to see what is causing him to relax, as sometimes it involves scissors and a beloved article or belonging. Other times, it could involve pouring an entire 2 gallon bottle of agave all over the kitchen floor (or a new bottle of Elmer’s glue or a bottle of craft paint all over the carpet….and these were all three in the same week). He loves to stim while I am cutting veggies in the kitchen, cutting fabric with my scissors, sewing, ripping sheets of fabric, vacuuming, and the list goes on.
Before I really educated myself on autism and especially high-functioning autism, I thought that all autistic kids had issues with communicating and making eye contact, with touching and being “normal” with their emotions. I never would have thought differently. My only experiences with autism were limited to watching the movie Rain Man and briefly teaching a 3 year old boy in our nursery, who we were certain was autistic (and he was later diagnosed as such). Over the past year, Aaron and I have been spending a lot of time educating ourselves on autism and Asperger’s Syndrome and we have come to the conclusion that we both are Aspies and at least 3 of our kids are Aspies (haha, I am not going to name off the other 2, for those of you who know our family well and endure Simon’s stimming during Sacrament Meeting, you will have to see if you can figure out which kids we suspect have autism).
I know that it may sound strange, diagnosing ourselves. Don’t we need to have a professional do that for us? I guess. If there were some reason to diagnose in the first place, other than just wanting to know what we are dealing with. Sometimes, people just like information and understanding why things are the way they are, so that we can adapt and adjust to make everything run smoother. So, we haven’t dealt with having a professional examine and pick us apart….yet. LOL
I think that it is perfectly natural for people to want to try to fix whatever causes themselves or their children to be different or feel awkward with everyone else. But it still makes me sad to hear so many of my friends who have their kids or themselves on drugs to try and help them to be or feel normal. I understand that there are real issues that cause people to need prescription drugs, but when someone asks me if I can put my kids on drugs to help them, I laugh. Why would I want to numb them or cause them to think any differently than they already do? I happen to really like who I am. I like that I am analytical and that I am always planning and anticipating odd things happening. I love words and numbers and have a fascination with colors and smells. Most of the issues I have in life, come, not from my own behaviors, but from other individuals’ lack of education on why I have those behaviors. Because I have Asperger’s and I have lived a life of having to try to fit in and make myself appear as “normal” as possible, I have a deeper understanding of what my little ones will be going through. In fact, both Aaron and I have had several discussions on the matter and we both agree that there it is a good thing we are able to relate to them and teach them how to adapt. Rather than trying to find medications for our children (and as far as I know, there haven’t been any successful medications for autism), we have chosen to do our best to educate other people on the subject and help them to understand our kids and their “weird” behaviors. Like me, there are probably many people who have no idea what being autistic really means (and this is coming from someone who is in the spectrum).
While we are out in public, we are working on Simon not stimming as much, and another of our children interrupting conversations repeatedly to discuss odd ideas and off-the-wall topics, and another child’s fixation on a couple of different topics that never seem to leave the conversation. When we are home, we have decided that everyone should be allowed to be themselves, as crazy as it may be. So, if you were to pop into our home in the middle of the day, you would probably see one kid on the computer doing his math with his headphones on, another kid, tucked away in a quiet room, reading (because, like me, he has a difficult time reading if there is anyone talking/singing/etc.), another kid building with legos or tinker toys, while talking a million miles a minute about a game he is inventing and the capabilities his next time machine is going to have, but not the time machine from yesterday, the time machine from last week, the one that he is going to create to help people to be able to see into the future, so that they won’t make any more mistakes than they need to……and you will see our sweet little blonde boy, sitting up to the table, drawing or cutting or turning pages of a book or doing small manipulatives in his box of pinto beans.
And you will hear him….stimming.