Monday, December 10, 2012
Awesome, Adorable, Amazing -Also Annoying!
Those words in my title are how I would frequently describe my family -kids and also, my grandchildren too. And they are all of those things -and then some much of the time. They range in age from the youngest in the mix who is now four-years old to the oldest, who is way up in years having moved up to a new decade -the fifties! Three of them are my biological children, three are my biological grandchildren, four are quasi-grandchildren (my term for part of the family -just not by blood), three are significant others and two are not quite in the ranks of being quasi-grandkids. At least, not at this time. One of the quasi-grandchildren is going to make me a quasi-step-great-grandmother somewhere around early February too! Quite a mixture there, huh? At least two of the grandchildren also bring with them another word from the "A" section of the dictionary too. That word -AUTISM! My daughter Mandy and I were having a good heart-to-heart conversation last night about that thing that can be really frustrating, very depressing at times to cope with, and yet, at the same time, being around the two who have this disorder, is more than likely to be awesome and amazing! Not that I am a trained diagnostician or anything at all along those lines, but somehow, the first time I held my granddaughter (Miss Maya) when she was just one-day-old) as I looked down at her in my arms, there was a feeling -or some kind of vibes, if you will -that passed through me then and seemed to call me or beckon to me to let me know that this little baby and I had a special connection. One that said she needed me and also, that I very much needed her too! Is that ESP? I don't know if that's it or what, but there was this definite feeling I had deep inside me at that time and it's become stronger and stronger each and every day I am blessed to be around her too. And now, there is also her brother who brings the same thing to our family group -but often his surfaces in ways a bit different from his sister. But that's a normal happening isn't it -with all children and adults as well -in that we are all individuals and each of us brings with us our own sets of thoughts, ideas and yes, all kinds of quirks too! Every. Last. One. Of. Us. Does. That! Like it or not, it's the truth! Of course, as a grandparent -and yes, probably one considered to be very doting too -I tend to think those individuals who are part of my life are truly awesome. Why? Well, because they ARE. No other explanation should be necessary! But with the Autism being present, sometimes it is necessary to somehow try to show that these kids all that and a box of chocolates! Frankly, I don't agree with some things people tend to say or believe about Autism. Yes, these kids may process some things -words, actions, and the like -differently than most people, the ones society considers to be "normal" a bit differently. Or so it seems but in reality, are they really THAT much different and are they really THAT difficult to accept for who they are, warts and all? I don't understand the logic or theory behind some parents who have a child with autism but they don't do much of anything to help the child learn to adjust to what we often refer to as "Reality." People, i.e. children, ALL need discipline in so many ways and without that, think about what society will then gain ultimately -a bunch of teens and adults with no sense of understanding how to make their way in the world, with no compassion then much of the time for others, for creating then more and more bullies to try to run rampant over the rest of society. Is that a good thing to allow that to happen? I think NOT! There have been people over the years who thought at times of me as being a not-very-attentive parent to being a very strict and hard-nosed parent -depending on the child involved as well as the circumstances of what they observed about how I raised my children. For many years, I sold Avon products and yes, I was the proverbial Avon Lady who actually went door-to-door with my bag of demonstrator items and little catalog, taking orders. I also frequently had my children -especially the two younger ones -in tow with me because they sure couldn't be left home alone and I couldn't afford a sitter either! But because many of the homes I went to were often meticulous in their decor, I pressed hard on my kids that they had to behave no matter whose home we were entering! Sure there were some houses where there were children in their age range and yes, if that parent was willing to allow their child(ren) to play with mine, that was fine. But even so, they still had to learn and remember that someone else's house brought with it a lot of boundaries they had to know and respect. Sometimes, things went fine and dandy with the kids and sometimes, well not so great but overall, things usually worked out pretty good and I never hesitated to take my kids with me and into any customer's home then as a result. They were taught that from early on and they knew too that failure to uphold Mom's rules could and probably bring about consequences for their actions. Most of the time they were able to comprehend that. The grandchildren -on the other hand -well, it's often taken a lot of perseverance and repetition of rules and regulations pertaining to behavior that would be acceptable or not but they have learned a lot of what constitutes "good behavior" over the years now. Occasionally, they have slip-ups -all children (and lots of adults too) do have things like that happen in our lives, don't they (or we?) With these grandchildren and the sometimes goofy -sometimes also very annoying -little quirks they bring into the picture, we often have to try to figure out if this is something that is actually a normal -or sort of normal-behavior for a child in this age range, or is this something that comes into the picture via the Autism factor? Take Kurtis, for instance. He's come a long, long way over the past six year, that much is for certain. He didn't being to talk until he was around 4 years old and now, 2 years down the road, his vocabulary is something to behold! One never knows what comment this kid is going to pop off with next. NEVER! Sometimes, he says things that seem way beyond his years and other times, it is very babyish too. Just a heck of a mixture there, that's for sure. One thing he does, frequently, is that he sort of "chirps" almost like a little bird. And when he gets into that type of rhythm around the house (or in school) it can and usually is, more than a bit annoying! OK, make that VERY Annoying! Yes, it is! But that is something that comes from the Autism factor and I don't believe that trying to teach him it is not always appropriate behavior to make those sounds is not robbing him of anything that is his and has to remain with him forever the way it is now! It's something that yes, will bother, disrupt and often anger others who are subjected to it and one of the things we all -regardless of our status in the social community, do need to learn when and where some things are appropriate or NOT! To my mind, teaching a child to "can it" or tone it down or just to go to a different room to act in a way not fully acceptable to others is merely teaching a bit about discipline and well, good behavior. If we want and expect children with quirks such as this one to assimilate a bit, to be accepted in society by those standards, then we do have to find ways to help them to curb these actions, at least when out and about in the general public and especially when in school. If we want our children -all of 'em -to be teachable (and believe it or not, most people with autism are very capable of learning many, many things along the lines of what is considered to be "normal") we can't expect them then to be assimilated, main-streamed into a classroom and expect the teacher to have to deal with behaviors that are disruptive, especially if the child is able to learn some types of self-control. For the most part, neither Mandy nor I treat either of these kids any differently with what our expectations of them might be than I would have expected when I was raising my children! They can learn! They are learning -and lots and lots too as a matter of fact. Sometimes though, some things do take a different path to reach the objective! They have both learned over the past couple of years to behave quietly in church. It was not an easy transition a lot of the time, but we have them to where they at least -generally -do sit quietly and behave fairly well. (Yes, they do usually have things with them that can keep them quietly occupied during the service and every now and again, something might happen that will bring on a sudden outburst of tears and even very loud wailing as well, but that is no longer the norm every Sunday the way it once was. I don't get upset with people who bring babies and small children to church when those children (or babies) get upset, cry, talk out loud, sometimes even get very unruly and disruptive) misbehave as long as I see the parent is trying to teach proper behavior. When however, I encounter a child the age Kurtis is or even Maya who acts in a manner that is disrespectful of the church and the surroundings or to the parent or other authority-type figure, now that upsets me and most especially so when I know the child has not side issues to prevent them from learning good behaviors! This applies not just to church services but virtually anytime, any place. Yes, I know children can and often are impulsive, sometimes VERY much so (as often is Kurt's problem) but for the most part, we do try to nip these actions in the bud! Don't ask me to be constantly in control of the behaviors of the two kids often in my charge if you don't do the same too with your own children! A little understanding goes a long way. And, thankfully, with these two kids and in particularly in church, the overwhelming majority of our congregation is aware of their issues and having watched them grow and learn, have become very understanding of some of the challenges involved in getting these two to use their ability to make "good" or "wise" choices, at least the bulk of the time. Please though, don't allow other children to try to boss these kids by bullying them or making fun of their issues of control. If another child is loud and forceful and being mean to either of these kids, with no reason other than to just acting in a way they would not like being put back to them, then yes, you can often expect a "Mama Bear Attitude" to surface -usually from their mother! (And, if she is angry enough or hurt, her emotions might just erupt in a public place then too!) We do often have some problems with the grandson along those lines -other children who often make fun of him and he doesn't fully understand the whys and what fors of those things. How many adults understand them too for that matter but yet, expect a child who has processing issues to cope? So many people say and expect everyone to accept unequivocally the actions of their child or children because the child has Autism. And I'm fine with that to a point. That point being that the parent still needs to teach the child to be respectful, in that child's own way and no, that doesn't always make it something that is fully in line with the expectations we may hold for those "normal" children. But rather these things can and often do come in line, provided the parents are actually working with various therapeutic teaching methods by which a child can have a better chance of learning more and more about that quality we consider to be "good behavior." And so, for today -that's my little sort of rant -explanation maybe -or perhaps a bit of advice too. Regardless, I still think these kids are Awesome, Adorable and Amazing most of the time -enough so that I can understand and occasionally overlook, or at least try to lessen the annoying factors that come through in ALL of us!