Andrew is a wonderful boy. He is caring. He is honest. He is fair. He loves people. He’s silly & fun to be around. He likes to talk and notices the small details of things. In so many ways, he is like the average boy, yet there are things that are different. Not bad, just different. And different can stand out.
The most obvious trait is his world of “onomatopoeia”. Think Batman here folks. Crash, Bang, pow, boom… get the idea? Oh yes, this is Andrew’s favorite ‘outlet’. Whatever he watches he will reenact, only he doesn’t use words, he uses sounds. So us on the outside of his little world, it appears strange, loud, and at times, a bit annoying. Picture waving arms, jumping, growling, humming, etc. He perfectly well knows what he is playing, but to those of us on the outside, we are clueless. I can catch on, I can limit the shows that really trigger the ‘wild’ scenes, I can distract him as needed. I can even explain to others what on earth he is doing, and once pointed out, it doesn’t seem so strange after all. Although it is helpful to know “what” he is acting out- Tom & Jerry? Super Mario Brothers? Star Wars?
Because Andrew has a strong sense of ‘right’, he also has a strong sense of being offended. And he will stay mad until it is talked through. I think he has been able to “hold grudges” since he was 3 months old and I first left him with a dear friend for an evening (with his first bottle). He was not happy with her for months after that, lol.
Sensory Issues is a very common trait among the Autism Spectrum. The way it was explained to me is that all the senses are magnified in a child with Asperger’s. This would be why Andrew leans towards the “beige” diet- plain, bland foods. This is why he gets spunky in a store- fluorescent lighting over stimulates him. This is why he is the first to *smell* something- good or bad. Loud noises either excite him or agitate him- never quite know which. When overstimulated, he tends to get ‘twitchy’ (aka tics). Sometimes voice ones, but commonly a curl-your-hands-under-your-chin ones with little tremors.
Family takes him as he is. They know the “why” behind the behaviors. Catching the ‘triggers’ (agitations) is always a learning curve. =)
Extended family just accepts him as he is. He can be in your space, question your motives (why can’t she have 4 cookies? or why can’t he play across the street? – not questioning authority, simply wanting the answer), be noisy, and tattle if something appears unjust. And family recognizes that he is caring, fun, and will always like you just the way you are.
Our Church Family– is amazing. They adapt to Andrew as needed. No judging, no questioning…just simply loves on him. He stayed in the nursery (0-2) until he was 4. We were then gone for 2 years and when we came back last year (at 6yrs old) he was most comfortable with the preschoolers (3-4). These fabulous sunday school teachers made him “helper”, and let him blend in (his skill level; both emotionally & socially). Now that he is nearing 8 yrs old, he, on his own, has made his way to the 1st through 3rd grade group. Again, these teachers do so well with him. Of course, he behaves well and is such a nice boy, and they just redirect him when needed.
Getting to know Andrew– both of the big kids (Justin, and now Preston) had to acclimate to the type of mannerisms that Andrew has. After all, Andrew recognizes that home is always a safe place to ‘check out’ into his world. So his oddities are more predominant there. However, we are in the process of giving him a key word to help him know when it is too much. A social cue of sorts.
Neighbors who see this loud, squirrely kid flailing about in our front yard (always reenacting a scene in his mind) I am sure are a bit puzzled until we happen to get to know any said neighbors, then it becomes an “ohh” moment. Sherry’s family (our homeschool buddies) has been very understanding; our grouchy, hermit neighbor? not.so.much.
Nothing was more beautiful than my sweet bloggy friend, Mama D. When we met up at the beach with her 3 youngest, the first thing she asked was how her kids could understand Andrew. I think her wording was if there was anything that her kids needed to know about Andrew. I only stated to give him personal space (which is a bit ironic of the one whom is unaware of others’ personal boundaries, lol). And know what? Those boys of Mama D’s were fabulous! They played so well with Andrew. It is amazing how well someones willingness to understand another, made this special child of mine blend into normal. I find this blessing to be so much more abundant in the homeschool community rather than public school; where different is ok, because really, aren’t we all just a bit different?