Tuesday, February 19, 2008

MiniWarrior~ism

For those who have followed my blog these past two years know that my son MiniWarrior is Autistic.

Autism is a difficult disability to define.

I've been told that Autistics:

1. Don't make eye contact
2. Don't feel empathy
3. Don't speak or have difficulty speaking
4. Live in their own worlds and cannot relate to others

MiniWarrior (like his Momma) defies labels.

If you met my MiniWarrior you would understand.

He loves people. He will actively seek you out to chatter your ear off; his lips spread wide in a teeth gapping grin of happiness.

His eyes will sparkle with animation and he'll closely follow yours to watch for clues of your own happiness.

He struggles with facial expressions. If you are stoic, he will watch you closely to see if you are angry with him.

He doesn't understand sarcasm and he is just learning the basics of language based humor.

Lord V loves puns and will often say a silly one and then grin at MiniWarrior to show that he has made a joke.

Like:

"Hey Lord V. do you like frogs?"

"Toad-ally, MiniWarrior. Toad-ally."

MiniWarrior will search his face closely and run the words through his head. You can see the labor process and then suddenly, miraculously, his face will light up and he will laugh with delight.

"That's a good one, Lord V!" He will exclaim and then he'll add it to his list of favorite things to say.

Repetition is a big thing with MiniWarrior. If he's allowed, he will eat the same food, watch the same movies, play with the same toys and speak only of his favorite topics over and over again. He never tires. In this he is un-exhaustible.

I've worked with MiniWarrior through his 10 years of life to endure variety. He balks and complains but he has learned to be more flexible and to accept changes in his routine. Small ones...but he no longer flings himself to the ground in a rage when his daily routine is disrupted.

This past summer he has become consumed with bug collecting (as most of you know). He's still consumed with bugs. He draws them, talks about them, reads about them, plays with bug toys...etc. He is...Bug Boy.

I had a lengthy conversation with him, on the way to school a few months ago, about his all consuming passion to talk only about bugs.

I explained to him that he must not only talk about bugs to people.

"But Mom, I love bugs!"

"Yes I know, MiniWarrior, but other people do not wish to always talk about bugs. They will grow bored and not want to talk with you."

"But I LOVE bugs!"

"Yes I know. But to have a conversation with people you must talk not only of things you love but allow them to talk about things they love, too."

We discussed 5 different conversations topics he could talk to people about: Animals, planets, weather, video games and favorite TV shows.

We practiced as we drove along. Just when he got comfortable with one topic and started obsessing with it, I would force him to change to another topic. He was so very frustrated with me.

I mention all of this because of something that happened this past Saturday night.
Something I just had to tell you all because I am just so proud.

Saturday evening, we dropped MiniWarrior off at an open gym night. A gymnastic place where kids can climb and run and play while their parents go out for a few hours to enjoy adult freedom.

This was the first time that we dropped MiniWarrior off without his friend tagging along with him so we were a little nervous as to how well he'd do alone. But, he's done things alone before like Summer Camp and seemed to do very well.

We were standing in line waiting to sign him in when he turned to talk to a boy standing beside him.

"Dude, do you have Nintendo DS?" He asked, his face scrunched in intense concentration watching closely to see the other boy’s reaction.

"No" The kid replied offering nothing more to the conversation.

Undefeated MiniWarrior shuffled his feet and pressed forward, "I do." He added with a tentative smile.

"I have a Wii." The boy added begrudgingly.

MiniWarriors face lit up. "Oh, Dude! Do you have Super Mario? I love Super Mario!"

Interest flickered on the boys face and he turned slightly towards MiniWarrior, "Yeah I have..." and proceeded to list the Wii games he had.

MiniWarrior relaxed and chattered with him until we signed him in.

Lord V and I went back to my truck and I had to sit for a minute and process the miracle I had just seen.

My Autistic son had not only engaged a peer in conversation, he had assessed the situation and thought through on what this particular person might like to converse about.

He not only had successfully initiated conversation he had brilliantly steered it towards the most basic of beginning friendship: Common ground.

Experts say this cannot be done by Autistics.

Experts don't know my MiniWarrior.

He makes me proud, Peeps.

Dang proud.

17 comments:

beth said...

I just LOVE it when the EXPERTS are proven WRONG!!!!!!!!
Good job, MiniWarrior *pats small Jedi as gently as a dragon can on top of head*

GREAT JOB MOM! To have had the patience to work with him till he got it - thats a GIFT that not a lot of people have! You are a great MommaKat as well as a gifted TEACHER! Puff that chest out and STRUT! *Dragon hi-five's the proud mother Kat*
Hugs and scritches
theOtherDragon

Cindy said...

WOW! That is Wonderful!
I also love when those in the so called *Know* are proven wrong.
(((Hugs)))

Sue said...

Heheheh Maybe the experts are Autistic themselves and not able to make the change.

I'm proud of both of you!

Aafrica said...

he's so brave to put himself out there!

Catwoman said...

What a wonderful, wonderful story. I literally have goosebumps right now.

Screw the experts. What do they know.

I'm so proud for you and great job on not putting the limitation on Mini Warrior that the experts wanted you to put on him. Like I tell a mommy friend of mine with an autistic son, that he is autistic does not define him anymore than the color of his eyes do.

Haphazardkat said...

Dragonlady: Me too :) and thanks for the Mom kudos. Not sure about the teacher kudos :) I feel as if i'm stumbling along in trying to teach him things--without benefit of a text book! *scritch scritch*

Cindy: To be fair, Autism is very complicated to define as each child reacts differently to it. But yes, I refuse MiniWarrior to be limited by labels :)

Sue: Thank you :) I am very proud of MiniWarrior.

Aafrica: he is a very brave soul :)

Catwoman: I began my refusal of limits on MiniWarrior the first time I was told he would never grow past the ability to be out in public longer than 20 minutes a day. Imagine where we'd be at if I had embraced that as fact. *shudder*

Mrs.X said...

Screw what the 'experts know'. There's lots of things they 'know' that aren't right.
Way to go Mini Warrior!

Haphazardkat said...

Mrs X: Amen to that! :)

R U Serious?? said...

Thank you Kat!! I needed a good cry today!! MiniWarrior and you are both amazing!! And it sounds as if Lord V is too! I'm so proud of you all!!

Flip Flop Momma said...

How great,,and I had no idea your had an autistic child..my nephew is as well...

Haphazardkat said...

Bob-a-roo: :) Thank you! And yes, Lord V is wonderful :D *hug-a-roos!!*

FlipFlop: Oooo how old is your nephew?? Is he high functioning? It seems we are seeing more and more kids diagnosed with this...

R U Serious?? said...

Hey!! Heads up!! Old Chicago Transit Authority for you!!!!!!

R U Serious?? said...

Sorry!! Change of songs!! Tomorrow will be CTA!!!!

Had a request!!

Peaceful said...

WOW!
I was actually holding my breath reading about his conversation!
Fantastic! It takes time/years to invest into these kids for results-You have definitely accomplished mountains..
Many listen to their dr. and not try or give up.
HUGS to you & your persistence-and LOVE!

Yoda said...

The experts he defies, does this one? The Force, strong it is in this MiniWarrior.

Personally I think that autism is such an individualized affliction that there can really only be one expert in any given case. In this particular instance, that expert would obviously you. I am sure that this breakthrough can be directly attributed to the love and patience you have for him.

God Job MW, and keep up the hard work Kat.

MP

Haphazardkat said...

Jadey: He's a pretty amazing kid despite my raising :) I agree though, no matter how difficult at times---especially when you toss ideas out there blindly without actual visual results--you cannot give up. I believe MiniWarrior is capable of much more than even I can imagine :)


Yoda: LoL at that name. I had to find out WHO was attached to it!! :D
And thank you for your kudos. He's a truly amazing little person. Although, he is almost my height now so he's not SO little anymore!!! *sniffle*

Cindy said...

I tagged you *sheepish grin* but so did someone else....
Read my lasted post to find out how
(((Hugs)))