Saturday, May 21, 2011

The sound of one boy eeeing...

  ~"Worry...worry worry worry worry... worry just will not seem to leave my mind alone"~ Ray Lamontagne


 My kids are all pretty close in age(roughly 2 years between each of them)-so when one of them has a friend over, they all consider them their friend as well.  With the exception of Sam-who, is starting to separate from the pack.  He will be thirteen this year..and considers himself quite above it all mature.  A couple of weeks ago, one of the neighborhood kids was over at our house talking to Sam. This boy is one of  a pair of brothers who come over to play from time to time.  (This particular boy is Sam's age his brother is closer to Lily's age-7)  All of the kids usually ride their bikes up and down the driveway..or play tag and sometimes just run around in circles screaming...regular kid stuff.  I hardly ever have to intervene..It is only when someone is being purposely left out..or teased to the point of frustration that I'll step in and kick some butt set them straight.

  Now having known my children all of their lives, I'm pretty used to them. So Oscar's stimming and eeeeing are a regular part of our lives. The same goes for Sam's very sensitive nature, Lily's tenacity and Zoe's tendency to go mute in stressful situations. I don't really think about these things (unless they are being discussed-i.e. IEP meetings, school , therapy etc.) because they are just a part of what makes my kids...well, my kids.  So, I was pretty surprised when one of those boys said to Sam.."Hey...does Oscar have autism?" "Yes, yes he does"..."Oh."  "So do I."  "You do?.."Yes, yes I do."  "But you don't look like it."  "Well...I draw a lot." "Oh..(and after a moment)...so, when I get home I'm gonna call my girlfriend....do you have a girlfriend?"  "Yes.." (12 years old and already posturing!) and that was the end of it.   If only it were that simple for the rest of the world.

  We had Oscar's annual IEP meeting last week.  Next year is his last year of elementary school so we have spent some time talking about preparing for middle school. One thing was said (that keeps reverberating in my brain) that in a way bothers me - "We have to let the teachers know that Oscar is not like Sam."..*sigh* Logically, I know what was meant by that. My boy struggles with pragmatic language . He has extreme stress and anxiety-which comes out in the form of stimming and laughing. Logically, I get it-I do....sort of.  But on the other hand...on the other hand It feels like a dismissal....as if they were really saying "You had better warn them not to expect too much."  It left me feeling kind of empty...and a little sad. . Yes, Oscar does face more challenges than his brother or sisters.  He does not always have an easy time of it.  The boy frets and is anxious..he WORRIES.....And yet, at the same time he has such humor..and a certain confidence in himself that none of my other kids have. "Mama?" "Yeah bud?"  "Do you want to know my favorite body part?" "Your favorite body part?" "Yeah...it's my nipples! hahahahaha...I'm gonna make mine shine!" and as he grabs his chest and growls.."shiny shiny nipples..hahahahahaha! Do I make you laugh Mama?"  "You do"  "Because I'm funny!"  "You are." "hahahahaha and I have shiny nipples!" "well o.k.!."   Of course he's not like Sam. He's like himself  and that's alright.

About a week after Sam had that talk with his friend, both he and his brother came over-and everyone went out to play. Everyone.  There was no treating anyone differently..no excluding..or weirdness.  It was as it always had been..a bunch of kids playing and yelling..and occasionally one eeeing.

15 comments:

KWombles said...

Hugs and smiles at the same time. They are incredible kids. Shiny nipples, indeed! I'm trying to picture how you get them, though? Shellacked? Glittered? A glossy coat of fingernail polish? A coat of baby oil (and why did I picture oil made of babies--not a good name, you know?)?

He'll grow up knowing he's like himself and that's alright, and what a gift your children will have: to know that who they are is absolutely fine.

Lizbeth said...

Clearly you need to get the boy some nipple rings, wanna borrow my shopping list?!?

I know what you mean though...as my kids start going to the same school I worry teachers will assume things based on the previous child and I feel the need to, I don't know, intervene....

I think the teachers will figure out how special (and unique) each child is once they spend a week or so with them. I hope so, anyway!

Accidental Expert said...

I love the conversation between boys about autism. So matter of fact and...accepting. We adults could learn a thing or two from them.

Shiny nipples, huh? Too funny.

jazzygal said...

Look Kathleen, it's like this... Oscar ROCKS! Plain and simple.. he's the best! I LOVE him :-)

He IS different to Sam and that's fine. He has his own way about him and the school will just have to teach him a bit differently, that's all. they'll be lucky to have him in their school:-)

I LOVE the convo between Sam and pal! WiiBoy ahs been mentioning Autism recently too and talking about 'his' Autism... you know, the autism-I-was-not-to-tell-him-about. well I did, and he talks about it. And now when we have a row and he's REALLY mad at me he tells me: 'What is wrong with you... woman... do you have a condition that makes you do this???' Hard not to laugh!!

xx Jazzy

Brian said...

Lizbeth is dead wrong. No nipple rings. They are already shiny, let the nipple be the decoration. I mean, if you have shiny nipples, you have to let them shine. Why put something shinier. Emphasize the shininess of the nipples. (Most fun comment to write ever)

Life in the House That Asperger Built said...

I really like the part where the friend is unfazed by the whole autism thing. That's cool.

Maybe it just me, but if an NT kid goes to middle school after his NT brother, are all the teachers "informed" that he's not like his brother?

Of course Oscar's not like Sam! He's Oscar, NOT Sam! So Oscar has autism. Present Oscar as Oscar. Why does Oscar have to be presented in terms of Sam? Are all autistic kids admitted to the school presented in terms of Sam?

I don't know. That kinda pisses me off. Sorry, but it does.

On another note, I totally want shiny nipples!!!!

Life in the House That Asperger Built said...

It didn't let me subscribe to replies so I'm commenting again.

Apples and Autobots said...

I also love how the autism thing was no big deal to the neighbor. You've also made me want to write a post about how educators view autism.

kathleen said...

@Kwombles-Thanks. :) yes they are who they are and that IS fine and wonderful...How does he get shiny nipples?..well, he grabs his whole pectoral area and twists(I know ouch!) and says/growls "Look how shiny they are-I'm making them shine!" ;0

@Lizbeth-yes!-We all KNOW that YOU would know where to get them...Assumption drives me crazy!..I do hope that you are right..that they SEE who he is..

@@accidental expert-Yes! I loved it too...no big deal-no stigma..it is what it is..heehee, shiny nipples are just one of the many "nipple" type things that Oscar talks about...the boy likes nipples..

@Jazzy-Thanks..yes, he does..and your wiiboy is a riot! I adore how he calls you "woman!" that is too funny..I could just imagine what our boys would say if they were ever in the same room. I know that Oscar would absolutely love some of the things that wiiboy comes up with. :)

@Brian-It makes me think of the sone-"This little light of mine" only switching "nipples" for light. I think we ought to have an international "Let your nipples shine day"

@Life in the house-Yes! I thought that this ws a great converstion..no, you are right-they don't do this for the N>T> kids. Sammy has excelled this year in middle school-he needs very little support...Oscar-he's a different story..but he's a different kid. It was the way that it was said that bothered me. Logically-autism presents differently in everyone. But you would think that this would be known. I don't want my kids defined by their place on the spectrum..because the spectrum doesn't define them. The school saying that people needed to be told that they were different from each other gave me the impression that autism was all that they saw ..all that was important to see..all that defined them..yup, pisses me off too.

@Apples and autobots-it was a very cool conversation. I look forward to reading your post. :)

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Oscar is such a star, he brightens up my day every time I read about him :D And I loved your last paragraph, when all the children went out to play together, that must have been wonderful for you xx

Stephanie said...

Of course Oscar is not "like" Sam, and if teachers really need to be warned...well, then I'm thinking the problem is that those teachers are too ready to put kids in boxes instead of focusing on the "individual" part of Individual Education Plan.

I mean, yeah, I sort of get it too. Teachers who expect Alex to be like Willy are going to be in for a BIG surprise. Functioning differences aside, they're totally different kids. And, quite frankly, I had some of that following behind in my brother's footsteps, too.

But...but...as much as I understand, I can't accept it. It's an example of teacher's using some kind of mental short-hand to categorize kids, and that's part of the whole problem with our schools. Whether it's by race, by economic status, by neighborhood, or by family...as soon as you start using that short-hand, you're using prejudice.

And then, there's that other part, the part where Oscar not being Sammy means Oscar is "less" than Sammy. Less able. Less expectations. And that's just downright infuriating.

Both boys deserve better than that.

Casdok said...

If only it were that simple for the rest of the world :)

Diane said...

"There was no treating anyone differently..no excluding..or weirdness." I just love this. Kids really can learn to accept each other. I'm glad your kids have some friends who can enjoy them just as they are - those are keepers.

kathleen said...

@ looking for blue sky-thank you :) Yes, it was lovely..:)

@ Stephanie-yes--it is sort of understandable...sort of...BUT-No one has "warned" Lily's teachers that she is different from her brothers...Yes-because we haven't quite figured out "How" Oscar learns..and because he struggles within the structure that is set for him-he is considered "less than" and that hurts..because he is an incredible individual...but-it would seem that he is being put in the "autism box"..if he does well, doesn't do well. likes something.. excels at something-it is all autism..almost like "Oscar" doesn't exist..that everything that makes him who he is is "autism"...he deserves better than that...

@Casdok-yup. If only....

@Diane-yes..sometimes I think we "over explain" things to kids..it can make them TOO aware..This boy needed no explanations..he asked and was nswered...life went on. It truly was a lovely thing...

denise said...

Really late comment here:

My mom was the fourth youngest of five kids-all five of them are NT.
The oldest, my Uncle Ronnie, was LEGENDARY for his bad behavior. My poor grandmother used to have to go and reintroduce herself to teachers who'd had Ronnie previously and explain that, 'Yes, so and so is the younger sibling of Ronnie, but he or she is VERY different. I promise you that they will not light anything on fire, "hide" your car on the football field, 'rescue' all of the pet hamsters and goldfish....'

the list goes on and on. And all of the other four now adult children STILL complain about different teachers who were 'mean' to them anyways just because they were related to Ronnie.

At least the school administrators were assuming that Sammy's relation to Oscar would make the teachers joyously optimistic ;)