Monday, June 27, 2011

Different or just weird?

This is the question I ask myself about Noah pretty much daily. How are other kids going to react to him? He does and says some pretty strange stuff.  Strange if he was a "normal", "neurotypical" kid without the extra dash of autism anyway.  But Noah is just so Noah...and his little quirks and things are so "normal" to me now that only when I am around him and other kids NOT on the spectrum do I see the glaring differences.

See Noah looks just like these other kids, he plays just like these other kids- but the rules of conversation and interaction just don't apply to him.  Noah is "Invisibly Autistic"  because he can't be distinguished from a group of other 8-9 year old kids until he talks. Or bows from the waist. Or attempts to kiss a girls hand.  

I worry, when he begins his new school journey in the fall- how will the other kids react to him? I mean-   he does not have Downs Syndrome or a more apparent disability.  He comes across as a much younger child and at times a very odd one as well. Autism is so hard for a young mind to grasp because it is not concrete- it doesn't LOOK different. Therefore- an autistic person's behavior is "weird" and the chances he will be bullied increase ten fold.

Even for the friends that know Noah very well his behaviors can be confusing. . He is a happy kid and he wants to be their friend, but he does things differently, far different than how they have learned.  Sometimes it is a breakdown in communication- his conversational skills are limited, but it's more like putting a square peg in a round hole- it's not gonna fit. He does not exhibit age appropriate behavior all the time, but then there are times he seems mature beyond his years.

We talk to him often, tell him to slow down, stop and think about what he is saying, explain why hugging everyone is not always appropriate, use his own words and not the words from a TV show..this one is rather funny because when we say that he will tell us "Those are my words" and he means that because he SAID them- therefore they ARE his words... the literal side of Autism- it's black or it's white- no in between.

Dad says Noah knows he is different- but I disagree- I seriously think Noah thinks everyone else is different. So trying to explain why there are people who just don't know HOW to be his friend is very difficult indeed.

But what doesn't seem to bother him at first comes up much later- he holds onto it somewhere and then remembers  it at a later date. Case in point- talking about going to cheerleading practice last year with me, and the bullies he encountered there.  I said- buddy- you are going to be playing football- you don't have to worry about any bullies. To which he replied.."OK- but what if they are mean football players?" *sigh*