Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How To Make It Work?

Here I am again asking for advice. There is one extra caveat this time though. I apologize in advance if I do not use the politically correct words, and I promise not to judge you if you don’t judge me.

When Ashley was younger, she exhibited many behaviors that were similar to the behaviors of children with Autism. That’s not unusual in a child with deafblindness. I even had one doctor who wanted to give her that diagnosis, but it just never seemed appropriate to me.

As her communication skills improved, the behaviors diminished. And, I believe, with maturity even more have diminished. In addition to that, my parenting style includes a heavy emphasis on socially appropriate behavior. That may come from my Southern upbringing…

The past weekend a friend of mine and her family joined us for dinner. One of her children is diagnosed with Autism and exhibits many of the same behaviors I saw in Ashley when she was younger. The problem came when that child with many behaviors which were pretty extreme was around Ashley.

Ashley came as close to a meltdown as I have seen in many, many years. Perhaps it was too much stimulation – perhaps it was the stress endured by both the child and those around him – perhaps the noise and the crowd was just too much for Ashley – but she had a very difficult time, and was on the verge of reverting to some of the same behaviors.

So here’s where I need the advice. This friend is one of my best friends. I want to enjoy the company of her family and I hope she wants the same of my family. But how do we reconcile her child’s needs with Ashley’s needs? What can we both do to support our children during difficult times, and encourage socialization that is positive?

I want Ashley to understand that people are unique and should be valued for that uniqueness, but I also want her to be comfortable.



Ruti said...

Does she have space to retreat to when it gets to be too much? Her being able to come in and out as she needs to might make that interaction possible.

First Lee said...

Maybe it was a post-traumatic response?

Having autism myself, I know that autistic people tend to have PTSD because of the level of fear and anxiety in our lives. I'm not sure how that applies to Ashley, but not being able to communicate your thoughts is a frightening, possibly PTSD-inducing experience. Maybe seeing an autistic person behaving in ways Ashley used to behave caused a flashback.