Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Contrast of Both Ends of the Autism Spectrum

I have such a great boy. This is what I’m going to write about today so if you already feel like vomiting from reading just that little bit, then hold off and I will send you a more depressing poem later—; But for now, I have got to tell the world that Nick is just such a great boy.

To be completely honest, raising both my kids (one with mild autism and one with severe autism) is in itself an interesting contrast. I have the benefit of raising both extremes of the autism spectrum, but I can honestly say that it was not a picnic raising both of these kids together. Sometimes I wondered if I didn’t have Meghan or if Meghan wasn’t autistic, would I appreciate Nick (autism and all) just as much as I did, and do now? Meaning that compared to the difficulties that I had with Meghan (being on the severe end of the spectrum), would Nick still have been a piece of cake? The answer to that question is: I believe so.

It wasn’t just the contrast of their disorder; it was also the contrast in their personalities, too. Nick is just an easygoing kid who will always do what I ask of him. Just last night I mentioned to him that he needs to participate in an after school activity, like taking up karate again, or we will head out to the gym and swim some laps--just something. Whatever you say, mom! And I also told him that he should be reading more, even though he is a good reader, but I emphasized that it’s a great down time activity. So, what did I catch him doing in his room at 8:00 last night? He was reading! Yup! And after some time he came into my room (where I was reading, as well) and asked me if he could stop reading soon because he was reading for a while and it’s hard to make it to the end of the book. (Don’t ya just want to eat him up alive!!) I think the poor kid thought that he had to read a book from cover to cover in one sitting! (No wonder why he doesn't want to read the Harry Potter books) I just wanted to hug him.

But honestly, whenever I ask him to do something, he does it. Please take out the garbage, Nick. He does it. Eat your vegetables. No problem. We are going on a boring car ride to find the closest Starbucks to feed mom’s caffeine addiction! He jumps in the car—no complaint. And if I tell him not to eat too much candy, like yesterday afternoon, he’ll ask me when he could have a piece of candy. Oh, just loving this boy!!

He listens to everything that we tell him and does everything that we ask. He is just an easygoing boy who likes to please. And did I tell you that he’s a teenager too!!

That fact that he also has a disorder and developmental issues doesn’t bother me in the least, but it worries me. I worry for Nick, more that I do for Meghan; as strange as that sounds. I know that Meghan is going to be fine. After she graduates from her school program at age 22, she will have choices, choices!

But Nick is caught in between. He is neither severe enough to qualify for programs nor is he mild enough to fit into the mainstream. It’s like the pendulum is moving this way and that but I just don’t know where it will fall, at least not yet.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy this picnic of a boy for as long as I can…


Dawn said...

I was so happy to read this! If I didn't know better I would think you had written this about my son. The best part is our kids are different than most and not just because of their diagnosis. While many kids have challenging personalities (especially at this age) our kids are well-behaved, sweet, thoughtful, sensitive, kind, caring...well, you get the point!

Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

I can certainly identify with the part about worrying more for your son's future than your daughter's. My son is high-functioning, but not high enough to be successfully mainstreamed. Homeschooling works for now, but I worry about his adulthood.

Holly Nappi Collins said...

Yes, figuring out what to do for our (nice, smart, good-hearted) son's futures will be something to look into and think about more.

autismfamily said...

My Nick might be a bit more high functioning, but is homeschooled for safety and bullying reasons. He has never been in that situation, but here in Los Angeles being white is a minority and did not want to put him in that predicament in Middle School where he is one of about 10 among over 2000.

He has his life mapped out, wants to volunteer at Zoo, go to high school there. He wants to live alone, not get married, drive a truck and have another cat, would like a ferret, but against law in CA.

There are programs for Matt here in Los Angeles and San Diego, where Sea World is and Nick's backup plan is.