Wednesday, 27 February 2013

If I could turn back time...

Cody's latest obsession is monster trucks and pixars "Cars" so he spends most of his free time viewing his favourite videos of monster jam on you tube. We don't mind, it's great learning style for Cody as its media orientated like his films and TV and he spends time acting it out and verbalising lots. 

We monitor him now as he found an epic fail video and consequently added the words "what the f*ck is that?" to his vocabulary. If anything went wrong he would exclaim "f*ckin hell!" but at least it was in context! So we soon learnt to wipe past history and keep his choices limited to certain videos! Cody s And this is my main topic of discussion today. Some of Cody's chosen videos are made by adults, men and women, showing off their extensive collection of "cars" toys or monster truck models. They play with them on screen, they build the toys and show you all the fun you can have. They pan out to show you walls full of toys or excited show you their recent addition from toys r us! One is a 20 min video of a gentlemen's colour changing Lightening McQueen which he takes delight in filming from every angle.


They're harmless videos made by enthusiasts. Cody loves them and clearly they're better for him than the epic fails...! But some of the comments made by others after the video are quite scathing. Using words like weirdo, freak, retard and even paedo. Other people don't get why a grown man or woman can take such obsession in toys. Thought wouldn't have made these comments when I was say 21, I would have found the whole thing strange to be honest. But now I understand that they are possibly somewhere on the spectrum, the higher functioning end but on there somewhere.

When I was at university some 15 years ago I was in the same dorm as a young lad who was different to us. We would say he was weird, we found it hard to be in the same room as him. He would eat strange things, couldn't socialise (but we hardly gave him chance) and he would do this odd walk where he would bounce of the walls of the corridor as he went back to his room. His parents would travel the few miles from his near by home every couple of days but we never felt comfortable enough to let him in our circle. Truthfully we were mean about him, though never to him. Now I know he was autistic and possible had dyspraxia and I should have been impressed that he and his parents had overcome immense challenges to get him there and achieve a degree.

When we moved into our home 3 years ago the rental company employed a gasman to regularly check the properties. I would beg lee to be in when he came as he was a little bit odd. He was bumbling, overly social able, asked you if you wanted to watch him work so he could tell you all about this or that boiler. I told lee I was uncomfortable around him and moaned to lee why the company would employ someone that made others feel uncomfortable. How irresponsible of them!


Then once we'd got the diagnosis karma bit me on the arse. I suddenly realised that this gasman could be Cody in 25 years time and I'd be over the moon if he had found a job he clearly enjoyed and allowed him to socialise with others?

I'd also be heartbroken if I felt others made the judgments on Cody the way I had in my former years. I had little understanding of disabilities unless they were obvious ones. I had no understanding of the true nature of what I perceived to be "strange". We can all look back 25 years ago to that "weird" kid in class, that friendless boy, the trouble maker, or the freak who obsessed on trains. The kids you turn the corner to avoid or the one you didn't invite to your party cus you didn't want people to think you were mates. Many reasons why my kids aren't going anywhere near mainstream schools in the formative years...it's easier to build a kids self esteem than to fix an adults!

I don't want to think of others behaving towards my children as I shamefully behaved towards others. I hang my head now that I wasn't an advocate for these people but I was a 20 something with issues of my own! What is scary is how easy it is, even in my current position to slip into the prejudices ingrained in my behaviour over 34 years. I'm aware of them now at least.
But yes, when I first saw these videos I scoffed, for about 30 secs then caught myself as I realised. This is Cody in 20 years time. This is Jesse showing off her collection of teletubbies toys.

When the doorbell goes I welcome the gasman in with a smile now. We give him treats to give his beloved dog companion. One tiny change at a time to drive this natural reactions away.

I'm not blaming myself or anyone else for my prejudices. I'm acknowledging that they informed my life and still do but the difference now is a self awareness that shocks me when I go back to pre diagnosis behaviour. I can argue it was a 'different time' before the public were as aware as they are now but I can't help thinking "I wish I'd been just a little bit nicer now, after all, how was I to know these people were my future children."


8 comments:

Sarah said...

Brave post! It is hard for us to see our own faults until we are faced with a more personal view.

I understand your not wanting to have your kids in mainstreamed classrooms because of how the kids might treat them. I chose to put my son there right in the middle of everything and let the kids have a go with him. I feel for us it is important for the other kids to know that James isn't going anywhere and they had better find a way to include him because he will find a way to be involved if they don't. So far it has been mostly successful. The school he goes to is great! PEACE from the Laughter, Could be the Missing Piece mum!

mama said...

thanks sarah...i knew my kids couldnt cope in mainstream anyway so i was kinda saved having to make the decision. in the end you want to wrap them in cotton wool but its not gonna help in the long run!

Catherine said...

you're doing the right thing. monitoring him is the best thing you can do to avoid adopting actions that are not good for them. being aware of everything is good. autism has lot of causes that's why we need to be aware of it.

Hannah Smith said...

When parents find that their children are having any disorder like aspergers and dyspraxia then obviously its very hard for them to accept it.
Only few parents can actually behave like bravo and support their children.
Thanks for sharing this motivational post.
Loved reading it.

Reference: what is aspergers

micheal clark said...

Great Post! It's very nice to read this info from someone that actually knows what they are talking about.
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ClairePowisHR said...

My youngest initially found it hard at mainstream primary school (Aspergers) as the other children did not share his (often bizarre)interests, enthusiasm and energy but they soon learned his ways (with support from school)and he has now grown up with kids who accept him and he has some genuine friends as a result. I totally agree that you need to work hard to protect their self esteem as children. I have the same battle with Youtube but mine is lego related!!

Angelica Smith said...

Half of the task is got done by parental support. I feel very nice when someone share his/her positive views and its good to know that people now understand all the facts about dyspraxia. A small support of surrounding can bring a great change in someone's life.

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