Saturday, February 12, 2011

Do dogs have autism?

~"Whatever they grow up to be, they are still our children, and the one most important of all things we can give to them is unconditional love. Not a love that depends on anything at all except that they are our children.:~ Rosaleen Dickson

  "Mama? Do dogs have autism?" .."I  really don't know...but that's a very good question Lil.." It really was a good question from my seven year old.  Lily is an interesting girl. Head strong.. independent. So full of joy and energy..over full even so that at times it can turn on her..making her restless and obstinate.  She knows what she wants and isn't afraid to demand tell you-forcefully at times..Out of all my kids, she is the most like me in temperament..sigh. Which sometimes makes her my most difficult... Have you ever tried to butt heads with yourself?  I must say, she has taught me a lot about patience. The girl has moxie. I adore her.

  We were new to all things autism when Lily was an infant.  I used to worry that I wouldn't ever be able to give her enough..time, energy, attention.  That somehow, because her brothers needs seemed so enormous(at the time)-hers were going to be put on the back burner-lessened somehow. It took me about five minutes to get over that.  Lily never SAW  autism.  Instead, she saw her brothers-her competition.   To her-they were all on equal ground-if she wanted attention-she learned how to get it. I don't mean that in a negative way. It's more like she sees herself as any sibling does. The parents are fair game-and if you want something from them you jockey for position to get it. May I say-she does a very good job.

  So although I wasn't surprised by her question-it was the reasoning behind it that made me think.   "Autism" is a word that we use at home. Our boys are of an age where THEY notice that they are different.  So we have been very open with our kids-how could we not?  Lily, however, sees this as her brothers and sister having something she doesn't. "Sam has autism?" "yup"..."Oscar has autism?" .."yup"..."Zoe has autism?" "yup..."So they all have autism and I don't." "yup.".."Well that's not fair! What do I get??!!" .."A big hug and kiss from me?" "MAAAMA!"

  We have always talked to the kids about how people are different-and that some people by their behavior or words or lack of words might appear more different than others. But no matter what the differences, everyone was deserving of dignity and respect. Everyone.  We didn't use the word "autism" until we saw it on on the television show- "Arthur". ( You know the show-where the lead character(Arthur) is an aardvark who has a dog as a pet and a friend(Binky) at school who is a dog...and a friend(Francine) who is a monkey who has a pet cat-but also has a friend(Jenna) who is a cat?..It makes my head spin)  It wasn't as if I was ashamed of the word. It just needed to be put it in a way they could all understand. Sigh...sometimes, I guess it doesn't take a village...sometimes it takes an aardvark...even if he does have a pet dog.

  All of my kids require some sort of accommodations.  All of them...and yes, some more than others.(we are a great example of what a spectrum is) That's just the way it is. It doesn't make anyone less for needing them or more for not. I could not imagine placing such a heavy load on my kids. Weighing one against the if their worth were measured by needs or lack thereof. They are children first-my children, and they are equal.

  So, do dogs have autism?  I couldn't tell you. What I said to Lily was "Would it matter if they did?" she thought about it for half a second.."I guess not." The conversation was left at that. Because, she was already off and running on to the next thing that caught her interest. Because autism doesn't really matter to her. She looks at our family and see's just that-her family. Where she knows she is loved and cherished for being who she is. A sister and a daughter who sometimes thinks she is queen...sigh.. She gets the last part from me.


Anonymous said...

she's a're the Queen...and I bow down to you...<3

Lizbeth said...

Hi there--it is so true--my daughter only see's her brother as just that--a brother. No ASD/Asperger's/PDD. Just a brother who she has to live, love and laugh with. Oh yeah, she will sometimes knock him out--don't want you to think we're without our dose of sibling rivalry!!!

Unknown said...

I LOVE this!

Kim Wombles said...

Hee! Yup! Wonderful. :-) Occasionally Bobby asks which one of them has Asperger's out of the three, and I'll remind him it's Lily, but that it's all the same thing, just another way of describing. Labels are words that float away...ever changeable. Why let anyone else define us or our children?

I never got Arthur either, and DW drives me crazy. :-)

kathleen said...

@anonymous-thanks :)

@ Lizbeth-Hee! that is I think the way it should be! It is lovely to hear of another family like mine. Yeah..Lily has absolutely NO problem letting her brothers and sister know exactly how she feels. :)

@apples and autobots-thanks so much. :)

@Kwombles-hahahaha..DW annoys the CRAP out of me! There is some poor parenting going on in the Reed household-aside from the aardvark dog thing! ;0

Life in the House That Asperger Built said...

Oh, I know what you mean about butting heads with yourself. Although Julia definitely has many of my characteristics, Coleman is most like me, and BOY is it irritating.!!! LOL :-)

Great post! As always.

Lynn said...

My sister's dog has major issues...much worse than autism. She's some sort of agoraphobic schizophrenic sociopath. But I shouldn't label...

Big Daddy Autism said...

You're right that it doesn't matter, but Lynn's siter's dog definitely has autism. So does my turtle.

Looking for Blue Sky said...

It's great that Lily sees that they're children first. I know my eldest is sometimes overwhelmed by the problems of her brother and sister, but she still sees them as brother and sister first xx

autismand said...

If your lovely girl's got a sensible attitude then credit to her, and credit to the one who brought her up that way :)

Stephanie said...

"They are children first-my children, and they are equal."

That they are!

Willy's been getting into the whole "who's more special" game. I tell him he's my specialest Willy and Alex is my specialest Alex and Ben is my specialest Ben and Brandon is my specialest Brandon.

He's to the point where he gets that none of his siblings are on top, but doesn't get how all of them can be special, too.

I just tell, "You just are." He's satisfied, for now.

Anonymous said...

This is awesome, and it makes me smile. Thanks so much for sharing.

kathleen said...

@ life in the house-it IS irritating to see yourself in someone else...and sometimes... embarrassing..hahaha..

@ Lynn-haha..I too have dogs with...issues?

@ Big Daddy-your turtle? I have heard that there are support groups for that...

@blue sky-exactly-brother and sister first.problems..issues..they are secondary..

bbsmum-Thank you..I would love to take all the credit for Lily being wonderful..but she would fight me over it. ;0

@Stephanie-I have the same exact conversations! I say the same thing-you are my favorite Oscar or Lily or Sam or Zoe...Sometimes I think that they just like to hear me say it..makes them feel extra loved in the moment. :)

@ Diane-Thanks so much..I look forward to going and visiting your blog. :)

Donna Aumann Cooper said...

Thanks for your insights. I have a 10 year old on the spectrum. My son is very vocal about a little boy at school that annoys him (this child also has autism) Once I told him that S had autism too. He stomped out declaring "NO HE DOES NOT!" A few minutes later he brought back a drawing of 2 boys. One colored to the knees...the other colored to the neck. He then said: I have autism to my knees but S has autism to his NECK.

Anyway, I blog about my son and life at Would love you to come visit.

I'll be back!