Saturday, March 8, 2008
A different shade of normal; a post script.
To finish off this topic, to which I had a pretty huge reaction I will add the thoughts I had this morning while reading the Travel Supplements.
Holidays are a great litmus test of normal.
Simply taking the decision to have kids changes your values system when it comes to planning holidays, and I am sorry but I have little time for people who insist on climbing mountains, or driving across deserts, or visiting third world supercities, with their children in tow. (Why did you have kids if you are going to actively risk their lives just to prove that your life hasn't changed?)
So going forth with children means planning a different kind of holiday which hopefully takes into account all of you and your children's needs, without compromising any ones comfort or sanity. Going forth with one or more children with special needs means planning a very different holiday indeed.
Because the higher your expectations of normal are, the more difficult your life is going to be.
And that is why in my experience; having two kids with autism, one who also has A.D.D., with us two parents and our Aspie tendencies means we got to ship out of normal years ago.
We plan our weekends, holidays and family celebrations to suit ourselves.
Any attempt to take into account someone else's expectations always results in disaster. Fool that I am I keep trying the odd time, but mostly we have opted out of normal.
So, like naturists that have made a conscious decision to go naked behind our front door, we go Autie . We celebrate birthdays, feast days and communions autie style, and book our holidays in Autie friendly locations with the minimum amount of transfers and traveling and the maximum amount of independence.
And, just like nudists, if you choose to celebrate with us; you either have to tolerate the naked or even better, get your freak on and let it all hang out yourself.
It is a very freeing way to live. Okay, from time to time we do get "clothes envy".
It would be nice to go out for Tapas as a family once in a while, or visit a friend or relatives home and sit back and enjoy their hospitality while the children play nicely together. But it ain't gonna happen.
Instead we have learned that to enjoy such things we have to divide into two teams, with one parent enjoying a mini-break siesta from a few hours to a couple of days, while the other stays with the kids, and vice versa.
In return we are free from enduring social obligations, just by playing our autism card. My big sister called me on this last year saying she was tired of that old excuse and it was my turn to do the Christmas lunch. She was trying to play her "recovering from breast cancer card" which was fair enough, but then I trumped her with my "54,000 kilometres away" wild card. (sorry sis!)
We are also free from Panto, and paying, queueing and subsequently being ripped off by the "Christmas land extravaganza" concept theme park, from a house full of squealing pre-teen girls, or borderline savage 10 year old boys at birthday parties, or enduring being invited to same. Our kids will never pressure us for the latest sneakers or ring tones or trading cards. In fact they will value the gift of our TIME for a lot longer than most typically developing kids. And for that we are very grateful.
I therefore take my hat off (leaving the rest of my clothes on, don't want to take the analogy too far!) to those of you who work so hard to create a shade of normal for your kids. It is a very difficult job and you do it mightily.