If you've been reading this blog for a while, then you probably have a sense of the extraordinary progress that Bud has made in recent years. If you know him in real life, then you are certainly aware of it. The progress is undoubtedly a good thing.
And yet, I find myself thinking lately about a post I wrote several years ago about the down-side of being a "high functioning" child, as I find myself responding to Bud with higher expectations, lower levels of patience, and increasing frustration with his behavior.
I'm reminding myself that I need to take a step back and remember what's going on here.
It's one of the dangers, I think, of having a child with a "hidden" disability. The more he "looks" like other children on the surface, the quicker I am to blame him for troubling behavior, instead of recognizing that it is merely another manifestation of his disability.
I think about it this way: If Bud were blind, I doubt I would hear myself saying "You have a cane. We have been over this a million times. Would you PLEASE stop bumping into things?" I'm virtually certain I would not blurt out in frustration "CAN YOU JUST WATCH WHERE YOU'RE GOING?"
I have a hunch that I would be quicker to remember that visual impairment is the very definition of blindness, and that the behaviors that stem from that are merely signs that there is more progress to be made.
Why, then, can it be so difficult to remember that most of Bud's troubling behavior stems from the core deficits that are the hallmark of an autism diagnosis:
Difficulty with appropriate social interaction;
Restrictive interests and repetitive behaviors.
When I look at the behaviors that make me want to scream - that do, in fact, sometimes make me scream - I can see how neatly they fit into these three little boxes.
Bud has made - and continues to make - extraordinary progress. His skills compound. His abilities soar. And he is still autistic. The core deficits of autism will continue to manifest in new ways for him, signalling our need to shift approaches and rethink assumptions.
It is MY job to watch where we're going.