I often write about Little Miss, who at 8, seems like she’s well on her way to a place where she’ll be able to cope with life in our world. Many days, however, her triumphs are offset by the antics of Captain Oblivious, our 12-year-old son with Asperger’s. The cloud that hangs over the house those days definitely smells of despair.
The latest thing is his need to steal food. He’s started cruising along the counter when he’s not being watched, licking icing off cake, eating halves of donuts from the box, taking fruit snacks from the closet. The therapist talks about reactive attachment disorder, and I could see where that might be an accurate diagnosis. But the bottom line is this: he does NOT care about anyone but himself.
Yes, Virginia, I understand that’s somewhat the idea behind AUTISM. AUTO. Self. Right. I got it. But he’s so smart. He will rattle off the rules right back to you. And as soon as you aren’t looking, BAM. Break them without a thought for anything but his impulse. He’s fed and clothed very well; there’s no need to steal. But it happens all the time.
When he was 3, and still pretty cute and tiny, it seemed less threatening. But now he’s twelve and nearly as tall as I am, and the hormones are about to kick in. He’s not mature enough to process, so he can’t use traditional behavioral modification therapy. That drive to act on impulse is likely to get dangerous, i.e. we will NEVER be able to have a gun in the house even if we move somewhere where we’ll need it. He’s yet to raise a hand against either parent–but who’s to say he won’t?
Seventh grade comes up in the fall and I have to confess I’m worried. He acts without a thought, just the kind of kid other kids can put up to stunts. He doesn’t care about being liked, he just acts like he wants to, which alienates a lot of kids. He’s the weird, geeky kid who will be the first one shoved in his locker come September. And what will happen then to the boy who does the first thing that comes in his head? And why is it the school counselor can’t understand why I want him to learn to deal with bullies before he hits junior high? And why is it that someone so smart can be so dense?
Some days, I really think I got the wrong play book.