Monday, December 24, 2007

Beyond the Wall

I haven't been reading much lately. Pretty much since Thanksgiving I've been so busy and just out of sorts so no book sounded like anything I wanted to read. I did quite a lot of Sudoku and got myself totally addicted to watching Heroes on Netflix, but no books.
But I've been feeling better and life has slowed down now that school is out, all the shopping us done, Ryan's birthday is over, and all I have to do now is cook Christmas dinner,(currently in the oven) and enjoy the fruits of all my work.
So, in the midst of my stress I went to the library and got a few books, to depressurize with. This is the first one I've read and while it was interesting, it didn't help my stress much. The book is sort of an autobiography of a person who was moderately autistic as a small child, and has gradually improved, so now would be classified as having Asperger's Syndrome, the same thing that Ryan has.
The subtitle is "Personal experiences with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome." I have been researching more about Asperger's because I want to help Ryan and the rest of the family as much as I can. But sometimes reading these books I just feel overwhelmed with all the stuff that I am not doing, or look, this guy's mother did this good thing or similar feelings. I am so glad for David, who can give me a better sense of perspective when these type of feelings threaten to overwhelm me.
The most interesting aspect of this book was his progression. He was severely autistic enough that as a very young child his parents were advised to put him in an institution. Which they did not, even though it was very difficult for them as they also had two other children, one who was moderately retarded.
He learned to talk, learned to function enough to go to regular public school, but was bullied horribly in elementary. His life got progressively better as he has gotten older. The interesting thing to me about Asperger's and many forms of autism is that the people who have these conditions can get better. Though that is not the right terminology. They aren't sick, or even disabled in the sense we usually think of, they are just different. They feel differently, sense things differently and as far as we can tell, even think differently than the majority of people. So the process of "getting better" is really one of assimilation and learning to deal with the preferences of the majority population.
I can see that in Ryan. There is nothing "wrong" with him, he just doesn't think or process the way I expect him to. Dealing with him involves re-examining a lot of assumptions of how we react and think. Assumptions that are very deeply held, until Ryan asks "Why?"

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