As you know, my husband and son are on the spectrum. They’re fantastic people – whom I adore – and I wouldn’t change this about them.
But every Wednesday I spend time with my wonderful nephew. Who is not anywhere close to being on the spectrum. I get a good solid dose of baby and baby development once a week.
And it’s fascinating.
To see him make eye contact – which he’s done for a good long time now – and actively search faces for information astounds me. I know, that sounds silly. After all, it’s what people expect.
But that’s not what I usually experience with our AS kids.
Seeing him mimic social behavior – like smiling, laughing, and making faces – amazes me. It’s a natural step in development. And one our kids have difficulty making.
Now he’s wanting to sit if he sees others sitting. Again, the sort of behavior that’s based on copying what another person is doing, and perfectly natural. And my son wasn’t able to do this sort of thing until he was well into grade school. Still, in fact, has difficulty noticing what others are doing, much less thinking he should go along with them and do the same sort of thing.
It’s eye-opening and fascinating.
I know a lot of people out there deal with siblings who do or do not have Asperger’s Syndrome. They see these contrasts on a daily basis. But not all of us do. In fact, sometimes the parents of AS children fall into the spectrum themselves, and have to deal with helping their children in areas they themselves are challenged.
Last week, I talked about early development, and how signs of autism can often be seen at a young age, if only we know what to look for.
And every week I’m reminded of this. Every week I see a very normal, very social child developing the way most people would expect.
It helps me to understand why understanding autism is so very difficult for people.
Because it isn’t what one expects; people take for granted that others are like them. And when they show signs of being different, motives and reasons are searched for. When none are found, these people are labeled as weird, odd, eccentric… and then avoided.
After all, if it’s different, it’s unpredictable. It might even be dangerous. Who knows?
It makes me thankful for the kind, understanding, non-judgmental people in the world. Those that can step outside of the expected and embrace those who think differently.
You are the reason my son has friends. You are the reason why people do not have to be the same to be loved, cared for, or accepted. You are the reason those geniuses and inventors out there – many of whom had AS – were not taunted and teased and bullied into nonexistence. You are the reason why diversity exists.
NOTE: No, this isn’t a picture of my nephew. I respect their privacy too much to paste his photo here. He is, however, every bit as cute as the baby above. 🙂