It's pretty good

I watched the movie Temple Grandin again with the staff from my school. I've spent a few days in our self-contained SPED classroom in the last couple of weeks. I've been thinking that as inspiring as Temple's story is, there are so many autistic children who will never achieve what she has accomplished.

Although I think most autistic children have unique and marvelous gifts, many times behavior and lack of social skills keep them from the kind of independent life we envision for them. Alan has a wonderful memory, the ability to "see" the US interstate system, and he can plan a trip in his mind. However, he needs 24 hour a day support to live independently. His behavior is the issue. Try as we might, we can't get enough of a grip on it to help him go any farther.

I think the lesson to take away from Temple Grandin's life is that it is so important that we treat our children as equals. "Different but not less." That means that, as far as they are able, they demonstrate manners, social skills (even if those skills are a memorized set of things to say), and adherence to strict rules. Routine is important, but we also have to teach our children that glitches in the routine are actually "routine". No you can't sit in the same chair and have the same bowl every day. You must be able to accept that life, by nature, is unpredictable. We need to teach our children what they CAN control - themselves and their reactions to the curve balls life throws.

We have had limited success with this in our own lives as parents. I think Alan is fairly able to handle changes in routines and plans. He does not like those changes, but he can handle them. Although we wanted much more for our son, what we have will have to be sufficient. We have more that many, less than some. We try to accept that Alan's life is satisfying to him and that he is happy. The dreams we had for him were our dreams, and we are working daily to let reality be our "best". Alan will be 33 this year. This is as good as it gets. It's pretty good.


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