Firstly, my apologies for the length of time between this and my last post - a lot has been happening lately with a brief holiday, school holidays, work stuff. It has been a busy period and I have neglected you, my faithful and wonderful (and often beautiful) readers.
I have been considering a number of entries and my list of articles to write for this blog still grows, so fear not and please bear with me.
Today, my focus is on L's massive amount of energy which often creates problems of its own, let alone when combined with his non-typical behaviour. Oh yes, we have a new way of describing how autism manifests in L. He is simply non-typical, not 'unusual', not 'abnormal' or 'non-normal', just not typical. It seems a very pleasing way to describe what is a challenging condition which he faces and yet he is a normal 7 year old boy in so many ways.
Anyway, I digress, L finds it a struggle to stand still, let alone keep himself calm when things are happening in a way beyond his control. Often I now use the strategy of commanding him to be still. As soon as I then ask for him to look at me and make eye contact (often gesturing between my eyes and commenting 'I'm here, not here' then gesturing to the rest of the room) I can see the energy bubbling up from his feet, his body starts to undulate and then swing from side to side and within a few more seconds he is pacing, often dancing around the room in a small circle. This boy is very difficult to focus on from my point of view, so how can he possibly focus on anyone talking to him?
I think that what I have to recognise is that he focusses reasonably well when required and willing, and his constant activity provides little distraction, but those times when he perhaps is less than willing to listen or to engage in conversation his movement is very offputting for the person trying to engage. Now I think I am realising that, perhaps this is a disservice to L. I think he has learned a lot in recent months and does now offer people a degree of interaction and attention even when he perhaps doesn't want to. Think for a moment about yourself, when someone is talking to you about something you have no interest in or someone you have little time for, perhaps the girl in the office who makes crap coffee, or an elderly family member talking about how certain makes of car are completely infallible and anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot, what do you do? Personally, I ignore them, make very little eye contact and do not respond when asked ambiguously rhetorical questions. Maybe L's dancing around the room to his internal balletic symphony is his, perhaps slightly less subtle way, of telling people they are boring?
Now you and I know that there are times when one must nod, respond, listen, make occasional eye contact and certainly maintain proximity to our conversational partner, but this is a social rule, not a personal idiosyncrasy.
Likewise the other way around, when conversation is inappropriate. If you were struggling to understand social rules, like the battle entering its second hour across the room as your mom desperately tries to convince your brother to eat his peas and asks you to give them some space, you don't expect to be suddenly engaged in a deep and meaningful conversation about which Daleks might be in the new series of Doctor Who.
What I suppose I am about to conclude, is that there are lines between the 'condition' and the 'behaviours' and the 'personality' of a person. That one cannot be linked with the others and whilst when I ask (I think I said command earlier, which is perhaps closer to the truth) L to be still, perhaps this is not some unrealised 'symptom' and instead is just a wonderful boy who has little time to be told again to stand still and listen when there are wonders to behold.
That feels like a very scant conclusion, but this is my first entry back in the game, so forgive me. Again.