Thursday, March 28, 2013

Parenthood, Big Bang Theory and Some Apparently Suppressed Anger!

Damon told me about a segment he was watching on the TV series 'Parenthood' recently. 

The father is dutifully trying to talk to his prepubescent son about how normal it is for him to be thinking about girls and about how he needn't be ashamed of it and about how all the other kids in his class will be going through the same thing; that all of this is normal and okay.

"But Dad," says the son, "I'm not like the other kids.  I have Asperger's."

There is so much I love about this: that the kid is talking openly about his Asperger's, that having Asperger's is becoming a topic for the mainstream media, that it is another way of being different, something to accept about others.

The father then tries to continue the conversation with the kid continually relating anything he says to lizards.

"It was the first time I'd heard someone other than Ryan talk that way,"  said Damon. 

And he laughed.

We first noticed Ryan's strange mannerisms when she began first grade in Germany.  Asperger's is often not picked up until school age, and even later among girls, because the social aspects don't become apparent until then.

No matter what we talk about Ryan interjects with something about horses.  It might be similar.  It might sometimes even be vaguelly appropriate.  But it's always about horses.

When I mentioned this to the child psychologist I took her to in Germany he felt that it was the only stable factor in her life, having been through the hardships of international relocation so often.  Mind you, we had been living as a stable, happy family unit in the same house for over six years when he said this, but yeah.

After three days of testing I really think they could have picked up on it, especially since I was worried about ADD, of which Aspergers has some similar signs.

In any case, he was right in a way.  Horses aren't the only stable factor in her life, they are the only factor in her life.  Her stable family - as intrusive as we are - are merely accoutrements.

We begin formal cognitive and ASD testing in May, but the signs are all there.  And again, this isn't as frightening as it is reassuring.  We've thought for a long time that something was wrong.  We knew for a long time that something wasn't right, not with Ryan, but with the school and the way she wasn't learning and the way the other kids were treating her and the way no one seemed to take us seriously.

Some people still think we are overreacting, that this is puberty, that this is her personality.  And I find this interesting; that people are okay with depression and with bipolar disorder and a whole host of physical conditions, but are still scared of the word 'autism.'

Could it be that ASD is just too similar to an extreme personality type?  That we don't know what to make of people who aren't physically showing any signs of an illness, but who are genetically programmed to be different?  X-men, evolution and the fear of any one different than ourselves?

Other people wonder if we should be so open about Ryan's ASD.  But why not?  Once again, isn't it better to be diagnosed with a tendency to see things differently and then learn to deal with it, than to suffer as an undiagnosed adult?

I still find it interesting that Asperger himself was German.  And apparently didn't speak openly of his findings for fear that his patients would be labelled, tagged, sorted and gassed.  Which is what they did with people who were different then.

Which is why they lost Einstein to the country that he helped defeat them. 

Whoa.  Sorry.  Don't know how I ended up there this afternoon.  This was actually supposed to be about Andrew and soccer.

It still surprises me, though, that they had no idea of what they were dealing with with Ryan, when the signs were all there if only they had cared to look. 

Might be they need to put down the obviously outdated text books and start watching 'Parenthood' reruns.  Throw in some ' Big Bang Theory.' 

Although now, come to think of it, Sheldon wouldn't seem all that unusual in Germany. 

Funny how the 'Asperger's Nation of the World' - a place where many Aspergers people actually feel quite comfortable, a friend tells me - none of those social niceties mucking about, no need to be polite, just follow the rules - missed a diagnosis anyone watching a TV sitcom should be able spot.

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