Many of you know that I have been extremely guarded with friendships over the past few years and I have put somewhat of a wall up around me as protection.
Part of the reason that I built this metaphorical wall can be traced back to the early days of Harley’s diagnosis. And I added a few bricks to it after Lucas received his because I didn’t want to let anyone in because I felt that I couldn’t relate to parents of typically wired kids.
I felt like an outsider.
I believed that I had nothing in common with any of them and that I would no longer be accepted by them because my kids were different. I imagined that I was being unfairly judged as a parent all the time and I wrongly assumed that I had been also been tagged somehow once the boys were diagnosed. I honestly thought that my days of having a “normal” conversation with other parents were over for good.
It’s important to note that this was just my perception. No-one actually said any of that to me. My low self image probably contributed to it a lot more that I care to admit!
Lately, I have taken some time to sit down and reflect and have wondered why a person like me who seems to be hurt by words so much more than the average bear would dive into something as subjective as blogging in a public forum?
It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense does it?
But somehow I have gained inner strength and peace through pouring it all out in print. God has been able to use my writing as a therapy tool to show me His love and acceptance of me and to help teach me areas where I need to improve. I have had my eyes opened to things that I had formed a shield against.
Like friendships with parents of “normal” kids.
Recently, I have made a wonderful new friend who totally “gets” my strange sense of humour and has one that’s just as strange herself! We have spent literally hours laughing till we almost cried about the silliest things and we just seemed to “click” from the get go.
You know how sometimes when you meet someone new and you know that you’re just MEANT to be friends? It just works and you can’t explain it.
Well, we have found that we have a lot in common even though both of her children are 100% neuro-typical!
Most of our conversations are over coffee (of course) and seem to revolve around the crazy stuff our kids have done and she has blessed me in ways that she probably doesn’t realise just by being herself.
Naturally, many of the conversations we have had have come back to autism and how it affects our family life, but not once has she rolled her eyes, glazed over or looked bored with the topic. She asks intelligent questions, she offers up ideas and has never undermines anything that I’ve said by making light of it.
She doesn’t live it day to day like I do but she also doesn’t begrudge me getting things off my chest either. I do try hard not to monopolize the conversation and I’m starting to talk about it less and less as we discover other topics that are fun to explore!
Laughter really is so therapeutic. I love nothing more than sitting and giggling and smiling until my cheeks and stomach literally ache. My wall is gradually being chipped into. And that’s a good thing right?
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine!
Do any other parents of verbal ASD children sometimes feel like having a conversation with their child is akin to pulling teeth?
(Which is an interesting analogy being that Harley is 8 and still hasn’t lost a single tooth!)
Below is a video example of a typical two way conversation with Harley. In the video, I was trying to extract information from him but it took a lot of suggestive questions on my part.
I have found that the best way to get him to talk to me is by sitting beside him – not in front of him – because otherwise he gets too distracted. He is unable to look at me and listen at the same time – It’s one or the other! And I gave him this icy pole to chew on while we talked too because this also helps him to focus.
I have realised that it can take ages for me to find out anything and I always seem to be offering the ideas and words to him. He rarely offers up information unless prompted unless we are talking about one of his interests and then he becomes fluent and hyper verbal!
But back and forth banter when the topic of conversation is of no interest to him is a skill that we are still working very hard on.
You can see that he still has a long way to go but has come SO FAR in the last 12 months and I’m super confident that this will eventually be something that he is able to do without much effort at all.