Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Explaining Asperger's

Tonight, as I frequently do when I'm driving home from campus, I spoke with my friend Jenn. We were talking about the portion of the class I taught tonight. It was something I really enjoyed from last semester's class, and I presented the materials by tying in psychological theory to explain the rationale for doing the assignment in the way we're requesting the students complete it.

I get psychology. In the past, I'd contemplated getting an MSW, but I realize it's not for me-because I'd want to fix the patient's problems. Jenn paid me an extremely huge compliment when we discussed all this, and we ended up talking about how the path I'm taking is the right one for me.

Having a child who had been in ten schools by the time he entered ninth grade can really inspire you to fix things, to ensure that no other child with Asperger's has to face so much change when it is one of the things that they absolutely HATE. Routine, ritual and consistency are things the person with Asperger's wants and craves.

I know this, I get it. Still, I'm far from perfect on this front-I let my son down with forgetting this sometimes, because I am the opposite: I like variety, deviations and spontaneity. But the one thing I feel like I failed on the most is that I didn't come to this knowledge easily, that while I provided his educators with a lot of what makes GameTeen tick, I couldn't provide that in his school placement.

It is what inspires me now.

I don't want to cure Autism, in fact, I love the way he thinks, even if it can be frustrating. Throughout history, some of the most incredible innovators probably had Aspergers, too. But I was able to articulate the difference in how I think and how my son thinks. For years, I've said that GameTeen thinks only in black and white (I think I've mentioned this a time or twenty on this blog, even), but the world is full of us people who think in rainbow.

The black and white thinkers don't get the fuss about this rainbow we're talking about and a lot of people who see the rainbow think that it is so awesome that those who only see in black and white need to see in rainbow, too.

You know what? We need black and white thought, minds that can apply logic when the rainbow emotion just takes over.

This is a very simplistic explanation for something that isn't, but it works for now.

There's a challenge here, though. Our schools are designed for rainbow thought, for rainbow students, for routines that aren't tolerated well by the concrete thinking of those who see black and white. Thankfully, my son is in a school that gets this, and he's surrounded by peers who, like him, thrive in an environment of black and white.

However, there are so many more students with Aspergers who don't have a private school that can deliver instruction in a way that best meets their needs. To me, it is important to find a way to deliver black and white instruction in a rainbow environment, to provide the same lessons-but in a way that is processed better by a black and white mind.

There's a way to do this, I know there is. It just hasn't been developed yet. Thankfully, living with GameTeen's black and white mind, I'm not fluent in black and white, but I understand it. I just need to share it with other educators.

Someday, I will.


1 People talked back:

JW said...

Interesting you mention Asperger's. I have a cousin who mom raised since the age of 2. She had a brother who we had for a short time but mom had to give up for adoption. When she got older she decided to try to find her brother. She finally found him and it turns out that he has Aspergers. I have met him one time. He reminds me of someone who has Autism. In his case he is an ultimate Micheal Jackson fan. He makes his appearance to be that of Jackson. We asked him to do a dance for us and so he did. Not only did he dance but he continued to dance through 5 songs. Passion? lol

He actually lives in north Lakeland. Somewhere around the Lake Gibson High area. He gets his looks from his mom.

JW