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Saturday, 9 February 2013

Dinosaurs, interfering and Aspergers

Really don't want blogging to take over my life (already I'm checking my page views every couple of hours like a blogger junkie) and yet here I am writing my latest blog at 1.20am while the rest of my family are fast asleep in bed.
In my defence, I've not stayed up specially to write my blog. I'm just in from a night out. And feeling quite proud of Ethan (my husband, who is grappling with a relatively recent diagnosis of Aspergers). I was sitting opposite a woman tonight who works in a special needs school. A lot of the kids she works with have Autism and she was describing some of their mannerisms and challenges. It made me realise that Ethan actually does really, really well - and has done really well his whole life, trying to fit in and hide his Aspergers. Life is hard enough, even for those of us who are 'mainstream' - I am plagued with social doubts constantly about what I've said, how I've said it and what people think of me. To not understand or be able to follow the rules in the first place must be unnerving to say the least. But Ethan carries on, day after day, at the helm of a family who are chaotic, messy, loud and unpredictable. And most of the time he gets on with life in good humour, making an effort and being the best that he can be. I am proud of him.
And yet I can't help correcting. Like tonight when Ethan had finished reading to Sam (our 4-year-old) and Sam was in floods of tears because he hadn't learnt enough dinosaur names for being 'dinosaur expert' at school next week. Ethan was trying to console Sam by pointing out the harsh reality:'There's not enough time to read it all.' Instinctively, my response would have been a soothing, encouraging one: ''We can learn the other names tomorrow.' As I listened in on Ethan and Sam's conversation, my lips twitched, my legs started towards Sam's bedroom, I tried to resist but Sam's wails got the better of me. 'Tell him you can learn the rest tomorrow, Ethan, you need to show you understand his concerns and that there's a solution...'
As soon as Sam heard my voice, of course, he started crying out for me. All Ethan's good work of reading about dinosaurs for the last 15 minutes with our oldest son was undone and I became the rescuer as Ethan stomped off to heat his ready-meal.
Perhaps my kids need to toughen up to Ethan's ways. Perhaps I should wait and do the gentle correcting later, out of earshot of the kids. Not correcting feels impossible - and defeatist. Because, although he's doing really well, I want Ethan to be even better. I want him to know what response to give in particular circumstances. And surely, the best route to that is self-awareness?
1.30am. Good night.

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