General


I can’t wait until Scout enters middle school.  Did I say that?  Why yes, I did.  It means more homework and more autonomy which will definitely be a challange.  But it also means no more Carnivals, Fun Fests or any other opportunity for him to stand out as the ‘weird kid’ in such a painfully social setting.

Maybe it’s just painful for me.  That’s what I’m trying to figure out, and trying to come to terms with.  I always get my hopes up that things will be different ‘next time’.  Scout does have a handful of friends that he plays with, has lunch with, has sleepovers with.  But when we go to these elementary get-togethers he is definitely the outsider.  Even if any of his friends are there he doesn’t pay much attention to them.  He doesn’t pal up and go on the monkey bars, or sit down to eat, throw around a football, whatever–with anyone.  It kills me.

Tonight I had high hopes that this would be better.  The start of a new year and the last year Scout will be at this school, I would know more moms than usual and he would have his little core group.  We got there a bit early and immediately my hopes were dashed.  A DJ was there and was already playing some loud thumping music.  Three boys were hanging around the booth, boys Scout has known and even had to birthday parties in the past.  Instead of going over to say hi to these boys, Scout starts dancing.  Not just dancing, but doing the dramatic moves he’s learned off of his Wii game that–let’s face it–without the screen in front of him, look pretty darn silly.  He thinks it’s cool and impressive.  He doesn’t understand that  a) it’s not. b) when no one else is dancing, it’s probably not a great idea to start pulling out your moves.  c)  the boys under the tent were all laughing and making fun of him.  Just kill me now.

I called him over and told him he needed to stop dancing because no one else was and people might think it’s strange.  Is that being a bad mom?  Is it bad to not just let him do what he wants to do and the hell with what others think?  Maybe I’m wrong, but my thought is that I’d like to help keep him from committing social suicide.  He always automatically reaches out for my hand when we are walking side by side.  We have always held hands when we walk.  However, now that he is a big 5th grader, I doubt many of those boys hold hands with their moms anymore–at least not in public.  It’s so hard for me, but I have to tell him NOT to hold my hand when we are at school.  I feel horrible doing it, but I’ve explained why I am saying that to him.  I’m sure he understands, but it still hurts.

It hurts not to hold his hand, and it hurts that I can’t just let him do whatever he wants to because those are the Social Rules.  I’m trying to make his foray into middle school easier by making him aware of it all now.  It really sucks.

Moms and Dads of kids on the spectrum, people out there on the spectrum, please tell me:  Am I doing all of this because it’s my own problem?  Do I need to just get over feeling embarrassed for him and wanting to pour myself a drink every time we get home from a social function because I’M the only one feeling sad and alone??  The one thing about Asperger’s that I say is a blessing is I don’t think he even notices or cares if he’s fitting in with everyone else.

But maybe he does.

I don’t know.

You’ve gotta love a kid who really wants to follow The Rules, especially when it comes to using foul language.

We’re pretty strict around here when it comes to the use of off-color words, which honestly makes me laugh when I think about my old rock-n-roll days where the ‘F-word’ was part of my daily vocabulary.  My dead fellow rockers (RIP) would definitely be rolling in their graves if they could hear me now, clean as a whistle. (well….most of the time.  Let’s face it, sometimes nothing punctuates a statement like a good swear. I am the Metal Mommy after all..!)

Yes, clean we are–only lately is my 14 year old allowed to say ‘fart’ instead of ‘toot’.  ‘Oh my God’ is not permitted–whether or not it’s out of reverence I’m still deciding, but to me it just doesn’t sound proper coming out of  young child’s mouth.

The funny thing is I am pretty lenient when it comes to listening to music.  For some reason, the arts indeed have ‘artistic freedom’ to me, and if someone swears in a song, so be it.  I do try to download the ‘clean versions’ of a song whenever I can, but apparently ‘damn’ and ‘ass’ aren’t bad words anymore. (!)  Sometimes, tho, a clean version is not to be found and the good beat or catchy riff of a song trumps the inappropriateness of a Swear.  I’m sure many of you would disagree and be completely appalled at the fact that my son loves the song “Bottoms Up” by Trey Songz, but, there it is.  I do draw the line at letting either of my kids have these songs permanently on their iPods.

What’s interesting, too, is Scout is really quite oblivious to the words, even when to me they are plain as the nose on Pinocchio’s face.  I’ll cringe at a part in a song that is colorful and he’ll say, “I don’t hear anything…” Now with typical kids you may think they are just saying that to get away with something illicit, but I really don’t think so with Scout.  This is the kid who calls the hanging icicles off of our roof ‘ice darns’.  I’ve literally heard him say the word ‘beep’ in place of something that could be much worse in an exclamation.  “I can’t get past these beep level on this game!”  hilarious.

I know this innocence won’t last forever, but it is darn (or, damn?!) precious.  I never want my kids, no matter how old they are, to sound crass–but part of me will give myself a little knuckle punch when I hear the first real bad word come out of his mouth.  After all, sometimes rules need to be broken!

Happy New Year!  I hope it indeed is a happy one for you. I’d say mine is starting out on a good note, what with this little journey about Scout and I being featured in the January issue of Minnesota Parent magazine! Thank you, editor Kathleen, for the amazing shout-out!!  I only hope a parent looking for an answer, a shoulder, or a shared victory will be happy they stumbled upon us.

Scout, on the other hand, would probably tell you that his year hasn’t started out so grand.  Not because anything major has happened, mind you, simply because with the beginning of the new year came the end of winter break and that means… going back to school.

Ahh, school.  No more waking up to his best friend iPod, playing games together off and on (probably way too much ‘on’!) all day.  No more computer games on school days, and no more TV during the week either. I don’t think any child relishes the thought of having their freedom taken away once again to get up early every morning and go hit the books.  But Scout looks at this schedule as torture, the poor guy.  You’d think being an Aspie he would thrive from the schedule of a school day, but no.  He’d MUCH rather do as he pleases and tune out the real world.  Now of course that is very Aspie.

Speaking of his beloved TV, I have to mention that he’s been totally into a show called ‘Shaun the Sheep‘ lately–a british claymation comedy made by the same people who did the movie ‘Chicken Run‘ and ‘Wallace and Gromit.’  I find this really interesting as back when Scout was doing OT at Therapy for Me, one of the things they would do is watch ‘Wallace and Gromit’ with his group.  They chose this because the way you understand what’s going on in this show is by watching the actions and reactions of the characters.  There is no dialogue.  You must pay attention to their facial expressions to figure out how they are feeling, which is something many kids on the spectrum have trouble doing. So the fact that Scout stumbled upon Shaun the Sheep and is so captivated by it really fits–and makes me very happy. He obviously DOES get all of the facial expressions and emotions implied.  Lucky for me, like the other Aardman shows, an adult can enjoy this just as much as the kids–they’re great! Highly recommended for some good shared laughter–and we could all use some more of that!

Laughter is a GREAT way to start out the new year…school or no school.

If you haven’t seen the play Autistic License yet, you really really should.  I’ll be honest…we rarely attend any performances unless our own kids are in them.  Not because we don’t want to, or don’t enjoy them–it’s just another thing to get on the calendar and we don’t really make it a priority.  It’s actually something I would like to do more often…maybe someday.

I had a chance to catch a free showing of Autistic License downtown over the summer–okay, FREE really is a good incentive to get me off my butt and get some culture!–so I took my husband and friend along, who is also the parent of a boy on the spectrum.  It was really an incredible experience.  It’s basically a woman telling the story of being the mother of a child with autism, and how it effects everything in her life.  The autistic boy is actually played by a grown man, which sounds a bit odd…but honestly, once you get into the play it’s so well done that you don’t even notice!  What’s really amazing is that it’s a real experience that is shared by the writer, Stacey Dinner-Levin, (but played by an actress) with her husband playing the part of their own son. It’s so moving, touching, very funny at parts and of course also very sad.  It’s the true nitty-gritty of a life touched by autism that holds nothing back.  No matter where your child is on the spectrum, you’ll find yourself nodding and darkly chuckling as you recognize a lot of the experiences as your own.  I truly feel privileged to have seen it.  We actually got to see the performance that was being taped for a DVD, and there was a question and answer session afterwards.  If you look closely you’ll see me and my hubby in the audience…:-)

Now here is the great news–in honor of Autism Awareness month, the troupe is performing the play at various places and it’s your turn to get off your butt and see it for FREE!  It will be showing at the Eden Prairie High School on Tuesday, April 14th and in Bloomington on the 15th.  You can get more information on their web site.  Go, go go…and let me know what you thought of it.  Don’t forget the kleenex…!