I’ve mentioned several times on this blog that Jett is doing group social skills therapy. And up til now it’s been great. There were a couple other boys who were very similar in functioning to Jett, and they were all able to progress at similar levels. Now the class is growing, and one boy in particular has more trouble communicating. Long story short, this boy had a tough week at therapy and had to be removed from the room. Jett was upset, but didn’t want to talk about it.
“Mom, do I have autis-ism? (his pronunciation).
My mind was racing. While we have been open about him having Asperger’s Syndrome, we’ve never mentioned Autism. It seems bigger, somehow. Yet here it was, minutes before dinner, and Autism raised it’s hand and demanded to be answered.
So, using Lego train tracks I built a spectrum. And at one end we had a Lego tower to illustrate “typical thinkers” and at the other a Lego tower to illustrate people who can’t communicate at all. Then we placed Little People and a few Hot Wheels on the spectrum where we think Jett and some of the other boys are.
I also remembered a book I bought not long after his diagnosis (you know, when you go on Amazon and just start ordering books to help you understand the whole thing). It’s called Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes and has mini-biographies of people known to be or suspected of being on the Autism Spectrum. After reading through it together, Jett decided it would be a good book to read when he’s having a bad day. And he squirreled it away in one of his hidey-holes in his room.
Will this be the last conversation we have about Autis-ism? I’m guessing no. Will he still feel different and weird, especially around other kids who are having a spectrum-my day/moment? Yes. But our message will continue to be everyone has those days and moments when they feel like they don’t fit in. And the way Jett’s brain works is just incredible. And one day it won’t be so hard.