We have regular "Andrew-isms" around here... he is the pun master and joke teller extraordinaire. He also asks some great questions. The past few evenings we have been working on a geography e-book that I received for review from TOS. Andrew says, with all sincerity, "mom, why do we have to know this?" And I do not have a good answer. I told him that it is 'important' to know geography. I think we may have to 'dig deeper' to connect the dots for him. It is funny- on math and handwriting, he balks, but he never asks 'why.' He gets the connection. "Just because I said so" doesn't cut it with him. And I like that about him. He will never be one to run with the crowd and give in to peer pressure.
There is a fantastic story about an autistic girl (embedded below) that has been listening, and thinking for YEARS and now has a voice by typing out her words. We assume things about people and those on the spectrum..that they all think like us (or don't get things at all). But it is interesting that Andrew seems to get better than most that PERSPECTIVE difference is "OK." I blogged about that a few days ago. This girl in the story is precious. She has quite a little sassy personality on her. She just can't get it out! Well, she couldn't but now she can. I am quite sure that many of the things she has done over the years have come across as 'naughty' were just an attempt at expression.
But Andrew speaks so well...and his language is incredible! Especially given that he didn't hear until he was 13 months old. So CLEARLY he MUST understand since he has great language and is so smart. It MUST be 'bad behavior.' RIGHT? These are the biases that I come up against on a regular basis. I will tell you that children are very very forgiving. Those on the spectrum and 'neurotypical' kids. Some adults- not so much. Sure there is the occassional kid who says, "hey dude. you are weird." But when an adult says something that shows me they 'assume Andrew must know he is behaving badly'...it sticks with me for days. This could be splashing in the pool, tagging too hard at tag, knocking over someones blocks, or kicking sand. As one example, we went to the Hands On Muesum this week. It was a 'block party' and they had oodles of large soft blocks to build with. I could see this as an accident waiting to happen. I could see throwing of the blocks, knocking down someone's tower...etc. I previewed with Andrew what was acceptable behavior and he did quite well. But I was right there giving guidance and there were enough other things around to capture his attention.
In another instance Andrew threw water on someone and an adult said, "maybe we should throw water back on him." They said that out loud. It wasn't 'right' what Andrew did but he was playing and we did have water out. And I don't teach him 'tit for tat.' Actually splashing him would have been a better response.. vs. stating it out loud. That is a natural reaction. This is one reason I was so glad the squirt guns were not brought out at park day yesterday. He wouldn't have had his listener on and would have been squirting everyone including adults. We often play the game with adults at home. So he would have a hard time shifting his brain to think differently in a new situation. When Andrew gets hurt (physically) he often erupts. This is not the time to reason with him, to have him see how the other person feels etc. Often another person getting physically hurt will effect him in the same way. These are all things that show me that his brain is wired differently. He needs to learn (and is) how to reference me to gauge his emotions. He is just starting to look to me, as a 1 year old might, on gestures. The other will come..I know it will because of the progress we have seen. But it will take time. That is what RDI is all about..... going after the core deficits (and I believe re-wiring the brain. That is another post too- the negatives that are showing up with the positives as Andrew's brain is re-wired.)
So how CAN you react with a child who is acting socially inappropriate?
One of the biggest instances of grace we have received was when Andrew hit a little girl about half his size. This happened a year ago at our homeschool co-op. Andrew was sorry and expressed that. She said, "I forgive you." I was still mortified a week later and spoke to the mom. She said, "Julie (kid) and I just talked about how it was not acceptable but Andrew is learning social issues a bit older than most because of his disability. We talked about God's grace and how we need to extend that to Andrew." I still tear up at this interaction.
A final thought...all of this is independent of IQ. The core deficits of autism are independent of IQ. I know people all over the "IQ" spectrum that, when they begin RDI they are back at square one of 'development.' Sometimes the high IQ has made the 'behavior' worse over time because they have been able how to manipulate the situation (their world) to make it as static as possible. That high IQ can also help them fly through the stages but initially resistance to become an apprentice is high. But there are no formulas.
Here is just one article on the core deficits of autism. If you google 'core deficits RDI' there are a number of hits. Not all of them are 'valid.' If you are interested in more info on it for yourself or a loved one, or just to learn, please email me and I can give you more of an overview. I think I will blog it myself at some time.
Anyway this is my little Saturday Morning Rambling. Maybe I should start a MEME for it.
additional note added: As I read through this again it makes it seem like we see this behavior all the time. We don't. But he also does do many mis-steps and we have to deal with them as they come. He is such a great kid to be around..and oodles of fun.