Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Socially Unacceptable

I was at the comic store with Nick, again, and we had a bit of a social opportunity… but then again, not so much. Nick was trying to look at comic books, as he always does when we’re at the mall, and the guy who worked there was straightening the comics and making sure that all was perfect. Nick was hovering and avoiding as he usually does when someone is in his, um, “space.” Nick wanted to look at the section that the guy was straightening (but not really needed much since the area looked great as it was). The guy spotted Nick and said “How ya doing buddy, everything good?” It was a nice way of saying how ya doing dontcha just love comics??? And, as always, I’m someone there, too; located just off center stage, set back to the side but safely in Nick's “protective” eye view and ear shot… “Not too far away, Mom,” Nick might say. So when this guy said that to him, Nick responded in his typical way… he turned away from the guy as if he wanted to forget that the guy was trying to talk to him.

Ughhhhhh!! Two years of social skills class and this is still what’s going on… I want my money back!!

So there I was (as usual) to speak up for Nick and say, “Yup everything is fine.” Now go away so I don’t have to stand here all day, buddy!!! The guy looked at me in a strange sort of way and nods. I understood this strange look all too well. It was pretty much equal to: What’s this almost 15 year old kid doing hanging around with his mom; and, furthermore, what’s the mom doing answering questions for him … hey, cut the cord already, lady!!

I know, I know. I’m asking myself the same question. It’s the same question I ask myself whenever we’re at the mall, the supermarket, Target, and Nick still needs me in his range of sight--no more than 10 feet away. And, needless to say, he is still so far from being able to stay home by himself, even for a few minutes. He’s just not there yet in his development. Simple as that.

I’m trying to question if this is an immaturity? His disorder? Or am I hanging on too tight and need to “cut the cord” already and force him to be out of my sight view for a few minutes at a time to exercise this developmental step. Or should I wait until he tells me that he’s ready and not force it? Trust me, I've tried to force it but he doesn't like it and I'm always afraid that he might panic.

And back at the comic store was a comical sight to take in: the guy was spending much of his time hovering around Nick and the comics section straightening bookshelves that were already perfect; meanwhile just a mere 15 feet, or so, away was this appalling sight.

Or perhaps I just have a case of OCD? Or perhaps I’m just getting back at the guy who made me feel like a bad mum…


Tanya @ Teenautism said...

Oh, I know that all to well. If someone asks how he's doing, Nigel can usually manage a "fine" in a low, quiet voice while looking away. I think part of the problem is that they're not able to make the leap to other situations and environments. They do okay in the social skills class, but they have a hard time applying what they've learned in a real-world situation. And then it's "Mom the Prompter" to the rescue - us. No matter how many times I tell (beg, plead) Nigel to say thank you when someone gives him something, he has never done it spontaneously. Never. I feel like crying because he is seen as rude, and I'm seen as not teaching my son good manners. Ugh.

As far as Nick becoming independent, I don't think it's necessarily an immaturity factor. I think it's a personality factor. Nigel has always had a fiercely independent nature, even before he learned to talk. He actually has some non-autistic peers who are less independent that he is. It's hard because even though it's great that he's motivated to be independent, there are many situations that he's not able to navigate, even though he wants to. So that makes me nervous. Anyway, I don't think you're hanging on too tight at all with Nick. I think you're doing what's right for your son, and he'll come around when he's ready.

Mama Mara said...

It's scary, isn't it? Today, I was sitting with my 6-foot, 200 pound, almost-16-year-old son at the opthalmologist's office, letting him squeeze my hand while a nurse dilated his eyes. I suddenly wondered, "Crap! Am I still going to be doing this for Rocky when he's 30?"


Holly Nappi Collins said...

Scary it is, but what’s even scarier is that I don’t necessarily mind having Nick need me so much... It’s the independent part of me that wants to help those dependent... that’s why I think I might be holding him back. But I think you’re so right, Tanya, it’s a personality thing and Nick needs this right now—and I’m lucky that Nick doesn’t want to run off by himself and leave me to worry!! And yes, they are well practiced in social skills class but forget it when they are in a real and public situation... But prompting and keep working with them is what we’ll do...