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Monday

Stereotyping atypical persons- just babbling

Little man has always been a bit of a conundrum- particularly when it comes to fitting him into the autism stereotype.
He has noticeable social deficits (see previous postings of humorous conversations for example) yet he has social ability and desire.
He was language delayed-has language output disability now with a vocabulary of a three year old yet he reads and comprehends reading material at a college level.  His understanding of language is complex, his spoken language formal.
He lacks an interest in most typical creative play-more so as a toddler, yet he is amazingly creative. He writes, plays role play games such as Dungeons and Dragons, draws and invents.
His fine motor skills are impaired yet he can paint war hammer miniatures.
He walks with an odd gait and is exceptionally stilted in his motions, yet he can run like the wind with no hint of clumsiness.
He is severely learning disabled, yet is an honour roll student with the help of oral testing to replace written.

I find it interesting, myself, that when he was younger his unique quirks were more obvious to me, yet we were unable to get a diagnosis for him.  In part because he demonstrated empathy, was able to use inflection of voice, interacted socially with his sister and was able to sit in class. Because he did not fit in with some of the false stereotyping involved with autism he remained undiagnosed for some time.

Yet now that he has developed in so many ways, has benefited from social thinking groups and interventions he was so quickly diagnosed.  interesting that a disorder that is marked by the atypical behaviours and processes of the individual there would be so many associated stereotypes.

Little man blends in better now, in some ways while standing out more in others.  Being in such a small town has some major pluses, in my opinion.
His classmates are used to his quirks and lack of social grace.  He is bullied less than I feared, stood up for more than I had expected and appreciated almost as much as I had hoped.  He has experienced the irritation of being stalked by someone 'crushing' on him and dealt with it much smoother than I had anticipated.  He continues to contribute to the classroom, helping other students with math concepts while learning to accept that he in turn needs help with written requirements.

His speech has improved some, although I am still frequently asked if he is from (new york, Chicago, France, Newfoundland, England to name a few).  Little man has figured out that he needs to compensate for his 'accent' with hand gestures, patience and care.  He has no troubles understanding other persons with strong accents amazingly enough. 

His new hobby (besides inventing) is to create intricate role playing board games.  All of these games have complex rules including character creation and advancement although I have yet to see one that favours the player over the 'monsters'. The creativity involved as he creates new races and worlds astounds me, yet he seems unable to imagine others intending him harm.  So naive for a young man turning 12 and headed to middle school....

Watching my children grow has been the most rewarding process.  I can't wait to see what other stereotypical behaviours little man prove are atypical to his diagnosis of being atypical.

3 comments:

  1. You raise the important point that the folks doing the diagnosing often let their own biases and heuristics get in the way of recognizing differences and quantifying them.

    It's a completely inaccurate stereotype to believe that all persons on the spectrum lack empathy or the desire to have friends and ignores the spectrum. There is a tendency to backwards engineer from behaviors to desires that, I think, often betrays an appalling lack of theory of mind on the part of the diagnostician.

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  2. I have not met any persons on the spectrum that lack empathy although I will agree that many demonstrate empathy atypically.
    Yet this lack of empathy seems to be listed as a 'sign' of autism on nearly every piece of literature the doctor has given me.

    Backwards engineering! Kim, that sums up the problem wonderfully!

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  3. I was just commenting somewhere else that our living in a small rural community has been so beneficial for our boys. They are accepted for who they are..I think that has gone further towards them developing and growing than any services they have received..

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