Using structure as a tool to develop flexibility in autistic children.
A few weeks ago, during a weekly Twitter chat that I host about autism, a mother of an adult on the spectrum mentioned how, when her daughter was a child, structure had been crucial in helping her to learn flexibility. It sounds like an oxymoron, but I found it to be absolutely true in my life as well. When I look back my early childhood years and try to figure out the things that worked best for me, structure is a repeated motif. In fact, I think it was one of the most important aspects of my growing up years — and it helped me in many ways.
What is my responsibility? To whom? I initially began this blog to tell my story, my reality as I've known it, and hoped that this would help others. But now I find myself facing issues of wider import. What if my experience serves to undergird a common stereotype of those on the spectrum? Does that mean that I should not share it?
How does a diagnosis change a parent's expectations?
The last 10 years or so, I have done a lot of thinking about what my life would have been like had I been labeled in childhood. Unquestionably, there are areas where knowledge of autism would've been a godsend. But I also wonder how it would have changed how I was perceived.
Starting from a young age, when I was said to be “emotionally immature” in comparison to my peers, I have never fit into the same timelines as everyone else. And even that early label didn’t capture the full reality of my situation. For me, it’s never been a simple as “more mature” or “less mature,” really it’s been just “different.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t fit into the framework of the common narrative. We try to sort and classify everyone into neat little buckets comparative to a so-called “normal” timeline. So, growing up, depending on what aspects of my personality and development an adult saw, I could be classified very differently and very different situations.
To avoid being seen as too weird or different, and to fit in better with others, gifted people often learn to stifle or cover up their unusual cognitive and other abilities, which can lead to an enduring pattern of hiding.
When she began directing in the forties, Ida Lupino sometimes claimed not to know the best way to line up a shot or specify a line reading, explaining “Men hate bossy women. Sometimes I pretend to know less than I do.”
Research finds children with autism 28X more likely to attempt suicide.
More than two years ago, when I wrote my post on Asperger's and suicide, I googled the terms "autism and suicide" and "Asperger's and suicide." I was appalled to find how few resources there were out there. They were sparse to the point of nonexistent. Now, that appears to be changing.
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