25 October, 2009

What kind of kid do you want?

One of my first posts was about this but the gaslighting post made me think about it more. Functional people cannot just yell when a noise makes them feel upset. They can't just say what they think and they can't just talk about their interests all the time. But at the same time, you don't want drones and you don't want incredibly submissive Asperger's people who don't self-advocate, and end up in abusive relationships, and so on.

What you want, I guess, is to raise your kid to be really aware. Not just of what's wrong with them, but what's wrong with everyone.

So you want a kid who thinks of himself as disabled both personally and politically. He knows he has impairments and thinks about how to manage them. But he is also aware of the disability rights movement, and he knows how many of his problems come from the medical model of disability. He knows that sometimes he can improve his situation by faking facial expressions, say, but he knows that it is unfair for the world to require that of him.

You want a kid who can recognize his own discomfort. You don't want your kid to start moaning in the supermarket but you also shouldn't reward your kid for keeping silent in the supermarket because then you end up with a kid who just doesn't express feelings that still exist. You talk to your kid about what's going on. You ask the kid to try to be quiet and you tell the kid that if it gets too bad, or if he thinks he's going to start yelling, to tell you so you can take him outside. Then when he's older, he will be able to understand himself and take himself outside when you're not there.

You want a kid who is anti-meanness and judges his and other people's meanness the same way. He tries to figure out if people are interested in what he's saying, because it is mean to make someone listen to something they're not interested in. He is very conscious that other people might be in pain and he has learned the appropriate reactions, because it's mean not to help someone who's in pain. If someone hurts him with ignorance or laziness, he knows that's just as mean as if he hurt them the same way. If someone bullies him, he knows that's them being mean, he knows that's not his fault for being different. He just sees meanness; he doesn't see normal and not normal. He doesn't feel that he is trying to be normal and they are cracking down on him when he doesn't succeed. He knows that he is trying to be kind, and other people don't always try as hard as he does, and that's wrong.

This is all I can think of so far, but you get the idea hopefully--clearheaded awareness of self and others and social norms, not privileging any of those things over the others.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think that "normal" people would ever view their ignorance as meanness but they certainly expect people with ASD's not to be ignorant of "normal" behavior. It's just as hard for people with ASD's to learn the normal way of doing things as it is vice versa for other people. Only we are the minority so it is socially correct for us to be the ones to rectify our ignorant behavior while the rest sit back. Some wait for us to conform and others leave us in the dust. Ignorance is bliss that's for sure. If only.