Saturday, August 23, 2008

Living with Aspergers/Autism: personality/disorder

Living with aspergers is probably the most interesting component of being a parent. Hey, who wants to raise a boring, typical kid anyway? Aren’t they usually materialistic and just hang out with their typical peers and age appropriate friends? Yeah!

But I’ve got someone else who has a very interesting approach to life and verbal spew. My son, Nick, tells me how it is—how it really is, and to everybody else as well, for that matter. I love this component to his personality: a telltale sign that he will always speak his mind freely and openly.

As with most people/kids on the autism spectrum, they do not understand little white lies, sarcasm and figure of speech…

For instance, when I ask Nick if I have wrinkles on my face—like around the eyes and mouth? He says an emphatic—"YES! "

Do I need my hair highlighted, can you see my roots, Nick? —"YES! "

Do I look a little fatter today than I did yesterday, Nick? …Well you get the picture.

One does not have to be autistic to be this painfully honest, all young kids are, as we know—they haven’t learned this little, delicate skill yet; but as autistic kids get older, they still hold on to that “Oh, so cute, brutal honesty” component that makes them so endearing—but only in some social settings.

Of course we help them learn the “play act” of little white lies in society; we need our kids to be accepted and liked, after all.

Same thing goes for sarcasm and a "figure of speech" concept. I’m still trying to teach this to Nick. He takes everything so literally, and he so often will come home from school peeved about something or other… and it’s my job to ask him what happened? (This time!) And what did this person say to him? And to help him understand—it’s not personal!! (Then I need to define—“It’s not personal.”) Ugh, and the vicious cycle expands.

For instance, the other day I said to him “Oh, don’t eat Wasabi, it's so hot (spicy) you'll die!” Uh, his eyes blew open and my autism meter was in the red.

He does get very mad at himself when he takes things too far. It’s his nature—the perfectionist (OCD) side of his personality (disorder); or when he can’t do something successfully the very first time, like win at his Nintendo DS or Wii games; or even ride his bike—his temper goes into overkill:

Personality and disorder—tell me, does one define the other? Nick’s disorder does affect his personality in more ways than one. Outside of his autism lies a boy who is fun, easy-going and has a great sense of humor. Which other people also enjoy and love him for.

The other side is his monster: OCD, perfectionism, anxiety-ridden burden that he is learning to live with (and me too); to reduce it, to shrink it down to an itty-bitty flaw and nothing more… I mean we all have flaws; no ONE is perfect.

That’s my job!

More on Disorders

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