Fathers For Autism

I am a road-worn father of an amazing autistic daughter and NT son. I started this blog to provide information, a sounding board and a voice for fathers of autistic children.

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Stop smothering me! I'm autistic, not cold...

"I need my space!!!"

This is a common phrase in my house.  The Redhead is not afraid of claiming her independence and banning you from her room.  She is constantly watched, manipulated, maneuvered and redirected.  

She's sick of it.

There is only so much a little girl can take before she tells you where to go and how quickly you need to get there.  With or without a handbasket.

And I love her for it.  It's part of what we've been working towards.  G'head, little one, give me the boot.  I accept your dismissal of me in favor of your confident and comfortable alone time.  Just remember that I am always here if you need me or if you want to play, talk or just 'be'.  I'm here and I love you.

So, where this gets tricky is in school.  She wants, so badly, to fit in with the other kids.  To be 'just another student'.  She recognizes her differences and doesn't want to be a "misfit" anymore.  Her words, not mine.  She watched the old version of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer and latched onto the "Why am I such a misfit" song.  Heartbreaking.

That said, she still requires one-on-one supervision to avoid wandering and meltdowns.  Her current aide, we'll call her Mrs. Smith, is phenominal.  She really understands my daughter and has both the skills and the temperament to hang with her.

Mrs. Smith is also the Redhead's Arch-Enemy.

On the way to school this morning, I asked my daughter "what's your favorite thing about school?".  Thinking she would say 'music' or 'art', she said, without losing a beat, "giving Mrs. Smith some space!"

"Giving Mrs. Smith some space."  An interesting choice of words.  Not "Mrs. Smith giving me some space."  

She looks at her nemesis as needing her, rather than the other way around.  

In fact, when she arrives at school, she will often groan when she sees Mrs. Smith and say "Oh no, not Mrs Smith!" and try to run away.  

So, we have adjusted our approach.  Mrs. Smith hides at the beginning of school and lets my daughter walk to class alone, all the while watching from afar.   She waits outside the door and peeks through the window to see if she needs help.  When certain challenging subjects or situations come up, Mrs. Smith will quietly come into the room and smoothly assist as if she's always been there.

Giving space where space is needed.  Allowing the little bird to spread her wings, but cushioning her landing if she starts to falter or fall.

The Redhead is still a long way off from being considered 'typical', but she is a lot closer today than yesterday, this week than last week, and so on.  Her strength, independence and understanding of worth is truly inspiring. 

It's also drawn in the other kids in the class.  She has friends now.  Not full 'playdate' friends, but friends nonetheless.  She is greeted when she arrives and missed when she's gone.  She can no longer consider herself a "misfit".

Not that she ever was...

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! My name is Cameron Von St. James and I had a quick question for you! I was wondering if you could email me at your earliest convenience at cvonstjames AT gmail DOT com :-) I greatly appreciate your time!!