While we’re on the subject

I remembered this week why I quit going to most of my outside groups:  I can’t stop talking about autism.

It’s not intentional. I don’t go to these meetings with the purpose of proselytizing, spreading the Word about the subject. It just happens.

For example, last week I went to a continuing education program on attachment disorders and bonding evaluations. At my table were a couple of attorneys who also work in the children’s dependency field, one of whom is a mother with kids similar in ages to mine.

As the well-known psychologist speaker went through the morning, he talked about how he’d evaluate parents and children who came to him, the different theories of parenting, and some of the equipment he’d use.

He talked about the “Strange Situation,” where a parent takes a young child into a room and then leaves her there; a stranger may then come in to try to comfort the child, before the parent returns.  The child’s reaction to the parent’s leaving and return and to the stranger are all analyzed.

I’ll tell you what–I would have lost all my kids. They never batted an eye when I left them at a sitter’s for work or any other time. They’d have just kept on with what they were doing. I shared this with my friend and she looked at me a little oddly, but nodded.

As we went on the speaker talked about other modes of evaluating how parents and children interact, and he raved about Dr. Greenspan’s Floortime. Now this is one every parent of an autistic child knows–and I had to share that fact. I figured probably the average person on the street wouldn’t have thought of this as “therapy,” and I just wanted them to know. (Even for big kids–see here.)

The same thing happened when he brought out the games he used for older children, like “Imaginiff.” The point of the game is two-fold; to take a given situation and select from a list of answers how another player might respond. Talk about theory of mind! And not only that, in order to get the points for the round, you apparently have to agree with the most other players–double whammy! I was practically babbling incoherently.

Another game he mentioned is called Never Ending Stories. Here players build a story cooperatively with the help of picture cards that direct action, feelings, etc.  For Little Miss, who struggles both with finding her words and working jointly with others on projects, it seemed perfect.

Pleased with my new acquisition of knowledge for the day, I still felt let down as I went home. I know I do the same with family members and most other people with whom I converse–the conversation ALWAYS seems to end up in a discussion of the impact of autism. Even when it’s not an active topic on the horizon, it seems we never escape it.

Maybe this is just a major flaw on my part. Or maybe it’s pervasive with parents of kids with autism. Perseveration, anyone? How do the rest of you keep your social lives intact and apart from this conversation?

This week, I’ve been invited to join the community over at Autisable.com, where bloggers writing about autism are gathered together.  Come by and check it out!

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One thought on “While we’re on the subject

  1. “How do the rest of you keep your social lives intact and apart from this conversation?”

    I don’t. lol
    Seriously, I have to make an effort to recognize that I’m talking too much about G and autism. Then I have to make another effort to ask about their kids and actively listen. I tell you, I understand and empathize with G when it comes to difficulty with conversation.

    But in your particular case, I think it was valuable to have someone point out the flaws in the evauation methods. If they’re judging the worth of the parent with these methods, I’d fail too. Like your kids, G has never experienced separation anxiety and can’t connect feelings to situations easily (if at all.) They need to know that it doesn’t mean I’m a bad parent!

    I reminded of first-responder education program where they had to teach police and emt’s that a bedroom striped down to just a mattress didn’t necessarily indicate child neglect in cases of autism. This feels similar to me, and I’m glad you could share your perspective.

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