Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Dude, a Beginning:

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat. This, is the Dude. The one and only, accept no imitations, DRH Dude. He's 15, he's autistic, and he's my son. And yes, he's even cuter than this picture makes him. If he weren't neither of us would have lasted as long as we have. I'm a single (but lovingly assisted) parent of a 'special needs' child, and that requires some adjustment for a basically lazy self-centered individual, that is myself.

Something I've taken as 'just the way it should be/is' may not be so cut and dried. You see, the people that help me with Dude (teachers, care-givers, nurses, doctors, social services) all tell me two things: 1) Dude is just a super-cool kid and if something dire were to happen to me, or even if I just turned my back for an appropriate time, they'd snatch him right up and take him home. (which is nice to say, but in my opinion just a compliment). And 2) That I'm a wonderful parent. I have no issue with the first, but I think some things should be said about the second.
I wouldn't classify myself as what parents of 'typical' children would call a good parent. As a matter of fact, I suck at it. Just ask my older kids. Once kids reach their teens the frustration of dealing with their insistence that my experience has no relevance drives me up the wall. Yes, I insist on the one thing they'd die rather than admit. Add to that the fact that I'm flexible until I'm stubborn, laid back until I'm impatient, and permissive unless I insist on something, and you'll see that I drive them just as crazy as they drive me. It took me a while to figure out that I was acting... well, a fool, basically. I want teenagers to skip over the teen-age stuff and get right to the point where they are relevant in an adult setting. So, with 'typical' children, I'm the kind of parent that requires tolerant adult female supervision in generous amounts.

But with David (Dude), it's completely different. I'm patient, but firm, and waaay more tolerant than I would be with any other child. And the reason is; I don't expect him to be anything but Dude. 'Typical' children have some innate need to appeal to someone. They bend their behavior to suit someone they want to impress or emulate. Be it Parents, friends, relatives, or some movie hero/heroine they're trying to be more like. While he's been raising me to be this 'good parent' Dave's taught me something even his mother never had the chance (or possibly the willingness) to learn. He's always going to be 100% Dude. He's never going to do anything just to please anyone. He's never going to change himself to suit anyone else. Once you can accept that (and it's tougher than it sounds) you really have a chance to know someone who truly is what people always say they want to be: Someone who's absolutely himself. Btw, I'm not ragging on his mom, it really doesn't bother me that she doesn't do very well with Dude. I just wish she'd admit it, and deal. Oh well, more to come at random intervals, and with no set plan we stumble on into the future.
For those of you who stumbled on this from The Flower Shop.... Sorry, nothing about hockey here. And for those who knew they were coming, you'll probably have to wade through my babblings to get the pictures you really want. For everyone else .... welcome to the Dude-verse, this is just your first instalment... lol

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