I got to meet the new manager at work today. I know I was nervous meeting her as a recent hire before her. I’d been in training earlier in the week so I hadn’t had an opportunity like my coworkers to meet her. I really liked her right from the get go. Somehow in the afternoon, we ended up on the subject of autism. Usually comes up anytime my kids come up. So, I wasn’t shocked to have the deep discussion we had about it, but she kept apologizing as her only connection to it really is the fact she’s fascinated by it. I told her not to apologize. I didn’t know life any differently.
People, let me tell you something, those of us who ARE affected by the spectrum either personally or through a loved one APPRECIATE the questions when you really are truly trying to understand and are respectful (even enthusiastic) to open this dialog. I love when I can talk about things I know. I know Emelie. And I know Autism. I know that the fluorescent light bulbs let off a “hum” that Em can hear and bothers her if she’s around them long term. It’s not so bad now since we’ve done listening therapy. I know that Em tastes things differently than our family does. What tastes one way to us, is nothing like how she tastes it. Literal thinking makes things like “It’s raining cats and dogs so don’t step in a poodle” a lost phrase on her, she used to go look out the window for all those cats, dogs and poodles; very confused as to where they were. The list is enormous and I can keep going on.
Here’s my take on how I feel about people asking me or anyone in our family about Em or autism or being a parent/family dealing with autism: I find it refreshing when someone is wanting to engage me and look deeper than, “she doesn’t look autistic” or “she doesn’t seem autistic” or “control your kid”. Those words make me want to spew fire from a dragon maw. Honestly, I just want people to learn what they can and formulate their own opinions about autism. It’s not black and white. It’s not textbook case, ever. We all have our own little unique quirks and when it comes to sharing knowledge so people can appreciate, love and understand ~ I’m there.
The thing is about this boss, she was excited that she knew a lot more than she thought she did. She was engaging, asking questions, responding, relating and sharing what she had already knew. I was telling her things that she’d read or heard and she was surprised that she actually understood that autism is alike in many ways but is very different in many ways; from person to person and child to child, and everything in-between. I could see her wheels turning when she would grasp that connection. She lit up. Truly interested.
That got me to thinking. I thought about a lot of things today. I reminisced about where Em’s been and where she is now. I thought about where she might be going. I thought about the coping tools we’ve given Em and how she uses them. How she now has incorporated some of those tools so much so, seeing the line between scripted responses and actions and her initiating those responses and actions are so invisible you often can’t tell what’s scripted anymore. So much can change in such a short time when you know what you are dealing with and you change your perspective. I got to thinking about a lot of things today, in a good way.
I can’t wait to see where this is going! Who’s along for the ride?