Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New year's stretch

There seems to have been a quantum shift between the summers when msk was 9 years old and this summer, at 10. Behaviors that seemed eccentric in the past are now clearly out of the norm. Part of it has to do with that lanky pre-adolescent stage - he's just not that cuddly little guy anymore. Another part is that he's not as quiet and withdrawn. There's often a constant stream of rather loud replays from computer games, Youtube, DVD's and emotionally charged events from real life.

At the same time, this summer msk wanted to go places and be with people much more than he had the year before. A lot of this I attribute to his school year in an inclusion setting. Lots of teamwork and acceptance has made him enjoy the public. A trip to the funky little grocery store by our cabin brought my kid an amazing amount of joy and excitement. That excitement meant that blending in was out of the question. So it became a summer of transformation for me as well - no more quick, surgical shopping trips. I learned to look for opportunities to talk about autism, giving people the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes the annoyed/confused stares gave way to connections and kindness.

I'd really rather blend into the crowd. And then meeting strangers' attention with trust and openness is also hard for me, but then I think of the challenges that msk faces every day and I know I can push through my discomfort. His whole life is a story of perseverance through discomfort and confusion. All of our social rules and feedback loops are a total mystery to msk while at the same time they are so intuitive and obvious to us that his difficulties are incomprehensible. But he finds joy in existence and moves through his frustration. Now it's become clear that slowly, slowly, he is drawn to become a social being. Perhaps not in the center of the action, more likely tangentially observing, but he is drawn in. These are changes I never expected. We'll see what comes next.

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