“Theory of Mind” as it is called, is something hard for people with autism to understand. It means being able to see things from another point of view of their own, a non autistic point of view. This is hard for neuro typical people as well to do, seeing things from an autistic point of view. If we make an effort though to understand that our child’s perspective differs from ours, hopefully we could meet them somewhere in the middle. This is something I am finding easier to do with Michael as both of us are understanding about our differences and similarities. Michael is making a big effort to understand me, how I think and what I like, while he sees me doing the same for him.
And the thing is that when we clash in our views, we can talk about it. Oh boy, there is a lot of talking. It is good and sometimes exhausting for me, but I remind myself that this is Michael’s way of navigating a world that is still foreign to him on many levels and needs explaining. I have to remind myself on tiring days of that old story I was told when I first found out Michael had autism. How would I feel being dropped in a country where I didn’t know the language, people or customs and told to follow along? Of course, it would have been stressful and overwhelming. Kids who are exceptional live that reality every day. It is not easy being in their skin. As parents, we have to remember to give them the time they need to acclimate.
This is why teaching them to relate to us is as important as learning to relate to them. We need to know what makes them tick; what they life, dislike and what new interests they have. We need to tell and show them what we enjoy. As they begin to relate more to the world around them, we can share our interests, our limits, and our life with them. This will encourage them to open up.
Lately, I have really begun seeing how much Michael is opening up to us. He always has, but now it is by showing us his fears, his loves, and his interests and wanting us to be as passionate as we can be about them. For example, Michael has been kind of hurt that I do not enjoy taking him on drives as much as Dad does. Dad knows the city better and it is one the activities that is best suited for the two of them due to other reasons as well. Before Michael liked going to parks and stores with me. Now that happens very occasionally only, so he will say I will talk to Dad about traffic as you are not interested. I tell him I am. It is just that Dad knows the city more. I am working on improving my directions knowledge for me as well, but I have also shared with Michael that I love hearing him talk about traffic because I know it is his interest. I have told him it is like my writing. And I know he has made comments, “have you done any writing today?” “have you done your meditation and yoga?” “are you going out with your Mom friends?”. He knows where my interests lie and is paying more attention as well as asking more questions. He also will demand I take him places and then when I remind him we don’t demand he will say please. He misses me and sometimes forgets how to ask me, but when reminded, does a great job.
I always praise when he does this. His empathy is improving, as well when he inquiries about how Dad and I are feeling. We have to work on managing emotions like anger and anxiety, but other than that, things are starting to go more smoothly. I am happy that he is making progress on those fronts.
Exceptional Parents, how do you teach your Exceptional Child to talk with you and see your point of view? How do you see theirs? It is a tough thing to balance for both parent and child. In the end, as long as both of you give in a little and except a little in return; a little bit of understanding, support and compromise, things will go smoothly. Until next time.