Scoring All Over The Awesome Spectrum

, , , , | Hopeless | July 4, 2017

(I have both ADHD and Asperger’s. Thankfully, both are relatively mild. I’m attending my friend’s son’s sixth birthday party. My friend has previously mentioned that he is worried his son might have ADHD and is planning on getting him tested. So as we’re watching the children play, I ask him if there’s been any reply yet. It turns out that his son does have ADHD, but is also on the autism spectrum. I ask him how they’re coping, and he responds with this:)

Friend: “The big thing is that I have to adjust what I picture for him. My mental image of the man he’d grow up to was, to be honest, a younger version of me. That’s not really in the cards now, and I have to accept that. So we started thinking of what we wanted for him, and we thought of you.”

Me: “Um, wow. Thanks.”

Friend: “You’ve got this stuff to deal with, but you never let it control you. You’re smart. You’re creative. So, yeah.”

(I’m not sure he even realized that he’d just given me the greatest compliment in my life!)

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  • Chris Bobridge

    Is someone cutting onions?

    • LT

      Ninjas. Blame the ninjas.

      • Katrin Schirmer

        it’s always the ninjas.

      • sackes

        Niñas??? What have the poor girls done??? 😀😄😆😅😂🤣

  • Kitty

    Aww. But… I’m sorry, I’m autistic myself and I don’t see how you need to ‘cope’ with having a kid that’s on the mild side of the autism spectrum. You might have to explain something a little differently, but… you know, it’s not as if you have to cope with having a kid that has terminal cancer…

    • Bethany Lieflijk

      Ditto. I’m different from my many siblings, but not really more different than they are from each other.

    • Jackie Fauxe

      cope: to deal with and attempt to overcome problems and difficulties

      I think the above situation applies to that definition? People cope with minor things all the time: schedule demands, new situations, things in life suddenly being different than expected, etc. I think you might be viewing the word in too specific of a manner.

      Now, if the OP had asked how they were “holding up”, I could totally see that being a little over the top.

      • Kitty

        Coping always comes across as a really negative thing to say, hence why it comes across as a little weird in this conversation. I don’t think one should refer to a minor autism spectrum in a child as something to ‘cope’ with. Maybe if they had said ‘dealing with’, it would seem less negative to me.

        • Jackie Fauxe

          It doesn’t across as negative to me, so now I’m wondering if it’s either a quirk of yours or mine, or if the meaning is seen differently in different regions or something.

          • Max

            I dunno about Kitty, but I’ve come across a lot of parents who react to their kid’s deviation from their expectations (e.g. they’re disabled, transgender, gay, wanting to study history instead of medicine) as The Worst Thing Ever and the concept of “coping” comes up a lot in their whinging. Bonus point for when you try to offer advice from your own experience being these things and you get “no you don’t UNDERSTAND”. (Double bonus points if they’re also being horrible to their kids.)

        • AngoraAlpaca

          i’m curious isn’t autism something with a wide variety of different appearances? so there might be one person on the spectrum with just a few quirks, who that person has to deal with, and on the other hand there might be someone on the spectrum who won’t ever be able to take care of himself. As far as i can tell they never said the kid only had minor signs.

        • Odd Duck 42

          I’m at the mild end of the spectrum. I cope.

          It isn’t a negative term. Yes, it can refer to horrible situations like sensory issues more severe than mine, which at their worst for me are still like nails on a chalkboard running down my neck and arms and literally triggering my gag and vomit reflex. Coping can refer to pain.

          It can also refer to something as minor as coping with the fact that the sun isn’t out and someone is a bit sad.

          Like autism, the term “Coping” has a broad spectrum of meaning, referring to someone dealing with a situation that could range from mildly sad or irritating to devastating grief.

    • keladry12

      A lot of people, however, are not autistic. Many of these people don’t know an autistic person well (or not any that admit/realize they are on the spectrum) and don’t know what it will be like. Although autism doesn’t mean that someone is less capable, it does mean that someone with autism will respond differently to different stimulus than someone without autism (or another condition) might. Knowing that someone is autistic is useful, and might help you “explain something a little differently”, as you say yourself is necessary. While not difficult, this is a change for many parents, and they may have to “cope” (deal with, learn about, change a little) at the beginning. I don’t really think it would be helpful for the child for them to not know and thus not change anything-do you?

      You are correct, the child isn’t dying. However, knowing that your child has a different type of brain than you is supremely useful, and can still help you care for your child better (cope).

      • Kitty

        A part of parenting a child and raising them involves explaining things; it doesn’t matter whether the child is autistic, neurotypical, hyper-active, whatever. It’s not like a ‘normal’ child doesn’t need to have things explained to it. Raising an autistic child is not all that different.

        Going by my own raising, I was raised pretty much the same as my older brother – who, far as I know, has no form of autism. We both turned out just fine; I might have asked for an explanation more than once, but nothing drastic.

        I still don’t understand social cues, but that’s something that is more along the lines of having difficulty dealing with the cues of strangers. I don’t know how they tick, so I don’t know what line to toe.

        • keladry12

          I mean, all parents have to cope with their children. Knowing what is different about their children will help parents cope with them. If you weren’t coping with your kids (adjusting your parenting to your different children) I would assume you were a pretty bad parent.

          And I would argue that it’s pretty negative to think of yourself as NOT a “normal child”, as there are many many people with autism, adhd, mental challenges, learning disabilities, etc. that may change how a parent copes with their child. Thus, “normal” is….what? I guess that “raising an autistic child is not all that different” is the point I am making. You have to cope with your normal children, but because someone is autistic, you should attempt to parent them as if they are not? That seems silly!

          • Kitty

            I’m saying that raising a (mild form) autistic child is not AS different as people make it out to be. We’re not some sort of weird alien-race that has sneaked in to observe the hyoo-mans’ ways of living; we just think a little differently and need a BIT more explaining on certain things.

            Having an autistic child and raising it should not be identical, but also not be too different from raising a child that doesn’t have autism.

          • keladry12

            Oh, I definitely agree. I see now that you seem to have a negative connotation for “cope”, which I’ve always understood to be a POSITIVE thing (like, “I was able to cope with my homework”, as opposed to “I slogged through my homework”, so coping=relatively easy changing process, as opposed to a difficult one), so I think that’s where we were getting our differences!

            Thanks for the discussion! I’m always glad to see more people spreading the message that autism isn’t this horrifying thing, it’s just a different way of thinking about things! While I’m on the mild side, it was really helpful for me to learn that part of what was going on is that I understand social cues differently, so I feel that having that knowledge of your kids would be useful too.

          • rebecca

            I don’t know if I agree with that. My SIL and BIL have two sons. The older is on the spectrum; the younger isn’t. They have put a *ton* of work into helping the older one function and get through things normally, stuff the younger kid just zooms through with no issues.

            There’s been a *lot* of extra therapy and activities and things for my nephew to help him live life like a normal kid. He’s “mildly” on the spectrum, but it’s still really hard sometimes, and his parents put a lot of effort into it.

            The younger son has his own issues but hasn’t needed anything as major as his brother.

    • AngoraAlpaca

      maybe i’m missing something, but only the OP is on the mild side, right? we never got to know if the kid is on the mild side as well

    • beacon80

      OP here. I’m mild. The child is not extreme, but not mild, either.
      I didn’t mean anything negative by “cope”, either. It was a major shift to my friend’s life, and the word seemed appropriate.

  • Rob Tonka

    Interesting how his played out cause it sounded insulting to me.

    “The big thing is that I have to adjust what I picture for him. My mental image of the man he’d grow up to was, to be honest, a younger version of me. That’s not really in the cards now, and I have to accept that.”

    To me, that sounds like he’s saying he has to lower his expectations. Then to go along with what I considered him saying he has to lower his expectations for his son, he follows up with “we thought of you.”

    His last 2 lines pulled it out of the fire.

    • Rebecca Jones

      Yeah, I thought it was odd. I can only imagine that Friend has traits that don’t pair well with autism, so is having to accept a little earlier than most parents that son isn’t going to be a personality copy of him? Err, or something like that, not sure mine is the best wording either.
      (Which honestly that’s something that more parents should accept from the beginning. Stop pressuring your daughter who can’t stand the sight of blood to be a surgeon in your footsteps or your softhearted son to enjoy bull fighting. Or whatever.)

    • beacon80

      Not lower, just different. My friend is extremely outgoing, and also very sarcastic (his son has difficulty comprehending sarcasm). He loves local theater, having acted in and directed and even written plays. This all comes to him very naturally, but his son will likely have to work hard for any of it.

      I probably did a poor job re-creating the scene, but I assure you, this was a compliment from start to finish.

      • Rob Tonka

        I realized that by the end.

  • Christine Wood

    D’aawww ^w^ I wish people would compliment me like that. Best I get is “Really? You seem so normal I honestly couldn’t tell.” It’s lost its charm over the years.

  • Natasha

    To those making snide comments about coping with a child with autism, I can say, as a parent, that it’s a process. You get a very limited picture of how you view your kids are going to be when they grow up, and when there is something that actively prevents them from being like you pictured, you go through a process of adjusting your expectations. When we suspected that my son had autism, it was a bit like a mourning process. The future is very uncertain very suddenly. In my case, I started questioning if my child would be verbal. If he would ever call me mom. That’s not to say autism is a bad thing, but it’s different than most parents would wish for their kids.

  • Cai

    That’s sweet. My daughter has severe ADHD and has Pervasive Developmental Disorder which has been described to me as “atypical autism spectrum” (whatever that’s supposed to mean). It does mean I struggle with what she’s going to be like as an adult, because she is (wonderful, smart, funny, creative, AND) not like neurotypical children her age. But I have other friends and family with mild cognitive impairments/autism spectrum disorders/etc and it helps to be able to see them functioning within the world in a positive way.

    I try to do the same thing for parents of transgender children – hi, I’m here, I’m transgender, I have a career, I have a spouse and a family, it IS possible. Coping with your child being different than you expected is made easier by having positive adult role models of the type your child will grow up to be.