Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Normal problems

When your life is whirlwind, sometimes its nice to realize that a little breeze is a normal thing. Sometimes I'm thankful for wierd things, I guess. I often think how lucky I am to have my Joey and my Andy. They are both little sweethearts, with big blue eyes and hugs to share. Sometimes I think how lucky we are with Joey. For all the problems and storms we are living through, Joey is really not too bad off. He's got a real shot at living a normal life in the long run (provided I do the needful now). So many of the other kids in Joey's school won't have that chance. But most often, I am hit with the realization that a problem I am having with Joey is a normal problem- a problem any parent would have, and I find myself grateful for it- for the problem. A normal problem means a normal kid. The more normal problems I have, the better.

So many of Joey's problems are automatically attributed to his disability. Granted, his disability often exacerbates an otherwise normal problem. He melts down faster, he had some sensory issues, but by and large, I feel like many of Joey's specialists and teachers either forget he is disabled, or the over-atrribute to disability. Joey is four years old. Normal four year olds don't like bedtime. They dislike broccoli. They don't want to leave Chuck E. Cheese's. They want the same story read over and over. They want to watch TV all afternoon. These are normal problems. Hallelujah, my child is four! Most four year olds need transition cues. Joey may need more than other kids, but needing cues is normal. Most four-year-olds have foods they dislike, Joey just has more than usual- but wanting to eat M&C every night for a week is a normal toddler/preschooler behavior.

So I often try to keep in mind what Joey's teacher told me last year: it really doesn't matter what's normal and what's the autism, as long as we teach Joey was is appropriate and what is not. Inappropriate behaviors need to go away, even if they are normal for his age; appropriate behaviors need to be encouraged, no matter his disability.

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