[September 15, 2008]
“That boy ain’t stchupid y’know” That was my father’s comment after spending a summer babysitting my two boys. In his backhanded Guyanese way (love my daddy but being tactful is NOT his strong point) he was complimenting my oldest son.
My son was born with the Autism Spectrum Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified or PDD-NOS for short.
What this means for him is he freaks out around crowds and loud noises. He gets embarassed easily and has a hard time expressing himself verbally. He comes across as younger than he really is and therefore doesn’t always connect with boys his own age. And he can be a bit of a perfectionist and stickler for following the rules.
But despite his challenges he, like my father said, ain’t stchupid y’know. He has made some of the most insightful comments over the years, is world famous for his politeness, and writes the most beautiful stories. And we all know that common sense ain’t so common but he has an extra dose that puts me at ease if I need to leave them home alone for a bit or send them to the store for a loaf of bread.
It is a very frustrating condition for me as a parent to deal with. And I feel that even more so in the Caribbean-American community. Especially with the members of the older generation. It hurts to watch some folks deal with him. They don’t say much but I can see in their eyes that they are trying to figure out “what’s wrong with him”. And some just put him in the ‘slow box’ right off the bat. Or, what can be worse, some people, once they find out about his ability to mimic and perform whole swatches of television shows from memory, treat him like he’s some kind of Rain Man (remember the Tom Cruise movie?) and try to get him to do similar mental tricks.
Well, whatever his issue, he’ll have to learn to deal with the idiots around him, be it for his PDD or his wearing glasses or being the short kid in school or whatever. It just makes me feel good to know that some folks, like my father, take the time to see beyond the odd behaviors and realize that my son is just a regular kid after all.
[September 15, 2013]
Wow, I didn’t plan this but it seems I’m updating this post five years to the day I originally wrote it. Well, as you can imagine, a lot has happened in five years. The cute, super adorable kid in 2008, who loved to cuddle up at with me at night to watch movies has become a 5’5″ freshman in high school, who’d rather cuddle up with his cell phone than his old mama at night.
As for his PDD-NOS, no he hasn’t been cured. As far as I know no Autism Spectrum Disorder is curable. But, with years of educational and social services, he’s learned to work around his issues and become a happy and productive kid. Though we still deal with issues of perfectionism and over-stimulation he is now your average teenager sporting attitudes, having crushes and constantly harassing me for an Iphone.
Something interesting that has happened is that he has only recently become aware of his diagnosis. He was diagnosed so young that going for testing and being pulled out of class for sessions with his therapists was normal and I never thought to explain it. Being a nosey kid, he went through my file cabinet one day and found all of his medical and educational services paperwork. I came home from work to the question, “Mommy, what’s autism?’ I was stunned. I didn’t prepare for this. And felt stupid that I never thought to discuss it with him. But we had a great conversation and it clarified alot of things he knew about himself but didn’t quite understand. I knew all was well when I caught him using it as a line on a girl, “Y’know I have autism right? That’s why I’m so shy” (insert sweet smile here). LOL.
My hope is that our story helps another family learning to deal with an ASD. In particular, if you and your child are struggling with the NYC education system and getting the services they are mandated to provide, please click here to read my interview with the autism blog Sailing Autistic Seas. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to come up with reason #473 of why I’m not buying him an Iphone.
Do you have or know any children on the spectrum? Do you feel supported by your family, friends and community? How to you think the Caribbean/Caribbean-American community sees/deals with ASD’s? Is your Board of Ed helpful in getting your child the services he/she needs? Tell me nuh?!