Monday, June 1, 2009

A Changing Perspective

Last Friday, I wrote a piece about my son's seemingly endless imaginary friends. Afterward, I realized that I hadn't included the story about his first imaginary friend. Yes, the piece is already fairly long as is, but still. This used to be one of my favorite stories about him. That's when it hit me. I really don't tell this story anymore.

LR discovered imaginative play later than his friends. Despite an extremely active curiosity about absolutely everything, his interest never ventured into the realm of "What if?" We were therefore both very happy when, one morning seemingly out of nowhere, he told us that he had a friend named Goldy. Knowing full well that he knew no one with that name, we quickly asked about her. He explained that she was a goldfish and that she was invisible. We said "Cool! Where is she?" and he gave us a look that I hadn't expected (hoped?) to see until his teens. Any parent would recognize it instantly. It's the one where he doesn't say a word but is thinking so loudly that he can be heard down the block. "Could these people really be this stupid?" This was immediately followed by a verbal response in such an incredibly condescending tone that, once again, I would have sworn that he was fifteen. "I don't know where she is. I can't see her. She's invisible."

Frankly, that makes pretty good sense and we quickly forgave him for the attitude. At the time, this was pretty much the cutest thing we had ever heard. We knew that he had an excellent vocabulary, but we were particularly impressed by his understanding of the precise meaning of the word "invisible." After all, if something's truly invisible then he wouldn't be able to see it.

Once I began reading more about Asperger's, however, my perception changed. Rather than indicating a superb command of the language, this little exchange began to seem more like a symptom. As the National Institute of health explains: "[C]hildren with Asperger syndrome tend to have good vocabularies and grammar skills. But they usually have other language problems, such as being very literal..." That pretty much sums up the whole thing, doesn't it? It certainly appears to provide the best explanation for his "superb understanding of vocabulary."

Somehow, this story just doesn't seem so funny anymore.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there I see you dropped over on the Mad Bush Farm for a visit. Thank you for dropping by. Interesting reading your blog. Yes you will find all kinds of things on ASD and all kinds of differing opinions as to why, how and what should be or not be done. I've only read this post so far but I'll read further as I go.

    I have Aspergers myself, and my youngest daughter has Autism. It's genetic in our family so to me it is nothing new. Yes it is a challenge dealing with a child that takes things literally. I found by gradually introducing friends such as plastic animals etc and getting Michelle to give them names and use them as conversation we were then able to work on changing the literal side of things. I remember at lone point Michelle coming home and telling me that Skeletons needed little kids to stay alive. So we had to work on teaching her that no skeletons had a different reason for being there. Patience, persistence, time and love are they key to it all.

    Be proud of yourself and of your son
    Well done and take care
    Liz and the crew at the Mad Bush Farm