1. Why do parents of children with special needs, DRESS them like they have special needs?
You know what I’m talking about. The sweat shirts and pants, the slip-on shoes, things not necessarily matching, and you think, dude, why emphasize the fact that your kid has issues by dressing them like that? I mean, is it not enough that they behave differently and maybe even have physical differences, now they are dressed like, well, like they have issues? Don’t pretend to be shocked, first of all, you know you’ve all wondered this at one time or another, second, one of my kids is autistic, I can say these things. Frankly, for a long time I wondered the same thing. Why, why is this happening? Is there some special needs dress code I missed a meeting about? Why is Josh going to school looking very cool in his button-down shirts and jeans and the other kids in his class are all in the above mentioned mismatched sweats and very un-hip shoes? I just didn’t get it. My “ah-ha” moment on this came last year. After school one day Josh was running around the house in nothing but his pull-up as usual after stripping down (in Josh’s world, clothing is apparently optional) but then I noticed he was wearing pants. Not his jeans though, these were sweat pants. The ones I keep in his school backpack as part of his spare clothes set. He had taken them out himself, and put them on. Himself. Put. Them. On. Himself. All by himself.
2. Why is the bus short?
Well, if it weren’t, it sure would be harder to make jokes about it...
3. So, is your son like Rainman?
Yes and no. I am aware that there is a real recoil from that comparison in the autism community, but there are some similarities between some of my son’s behaviors and those you saw in Dustin Hoffman’s character in the movie. Josh will certainly get very loud and hit his ears when he is upset. Josh also has a tendency to script all the time, which is what the character in the movie was doing when he was repeating things he’d heard on tv or the radio. My son also has a frightening memory, though he is not cognitively functional enough to use it in a meaningful way - so no, we’re not hitting Vegas when he’s 21. All individuals with autism are different, you’d be hard pressed to find any two that are truly alike despite having similar issues.
4. What is your son’s special ability, you know, how is he a savant?
Destruction of property and the ability to survive on french fries.
Not all individuals with autism are “savants”.
5. No, I do not have any examples of his “artwork” to show you…
My son is AUTISTIC, not, ARTISTIC. I have had more people than I can count who think that’s what I’ve said or what I must mean.
A recent exchange: Checkout person chatting away to Josh, Josh is not responding. I apologize and explain that he’s not being rude, that he’s autistic, so it’s difficult for him to interact with others. Puzzled look from checkout person. Then, the question “so what does he paint?”
Me: “Impressionistic watercolors mostly, sometimes he’ll go with more of a postmodern theme, it just depends.”
Because I’m a smart-ass. Also, sometimes it’s just easier.
In 2010 I did some freelance writing for Momversation.com. These are the posts.