I had a long discussion with Konner this weekend. While I have many long discussions with him they usually are about Thomas trains, track dimension, Minecraft issues, zombies or something else that interests him, but I have no idea what they really are all about. I wish I could tell you this conversation was different, but it really just ended up with the same subjects.
However, I was reading an article on Facebook about people on the spectrum and how their brains work differently than neurotypical people. Since Konner was sitting next to me I decided to ask him what he thought about the situation.
I said, “Have you ever heard of Autism?” I knew he had because we have discussed it before.
He replied, “Yes daddy.”
I said, “Do we know anyone who has autism?”
He said, “I don’t know.”
So I explain to him, though I’ve explained several times, that he does and it causes his brain to work differently than others.
I then asked, “Does it take you a little while to think about questions when I ask them?”
He said yes and so I tried to explain why. I went on to ask him other autism related questions just to see what he thought.
I asked, “Do you play with people at school or stay to yourself?” He said he stays to himself, but sometimes plays with others.
I then asked, “Do you want other kids to play with you or do you want to be left alone?”
He said, “I want other kids to play with me most of the time, but sometimes I just want to be left alone.”
I figure this stands to reason. I just want to be left alone sometimes too, and if he is overstimulated he probably doesn’t want anyone to bother him.
It was at this point the conversation fell off on his end. I would ask him if the other kids made fun of him or if they were nice to him.
He said, “They are nice to me ... did you know that Thomas and Percy are medium gauge engines ...”
So I tried to steer the conversation back on track and said, “Do the kids make fun of you or are they nice to you?”
He said, “They don’t make fun of me ... did you know that on Misty Island Rescue ...”
He, like many children on the spectrum only want to talk about things they are interested in, and when they are interested in them. He will go days without saying anything to anyone unless he is asked a question, and then spend an hour talking about a certain train or part of a movie he watched. He will keep talking even if you have a conversation with someone else.
He tends to repeat the same conversations over and over again. This is part of the echolalia.
Part of the thought process issue is the fact that, according to an article on the Autism Discussion Page on Facebook, and other articles I’ve read in the past, “The brain wiring for people on the spectrum (ASD) makes it difficult to look past the detail for the overall picture. It is more focused on reading the concrete details (facts). What your see and hear, is what you get. They stay more true to the details, and analyze the facts to piece together the overall picture. Hence their thought processes can be less biased (although not entirely unbiased), and more true to the facts.”
His mind amazes me in the things it can do when he wants to, but when he doesn’t you might as well forget getting anything out of him.
Kodey Toney is a parent of a child with autism. E-mail him with questions or ideas at email@example.com . You also can find all columns archived at blogspot.com.