Monday, November 29, 2010

The Up Side of Autism

I have been around a few typical teenagers lately and have to say that I think there just might be a few things that could be considered perks to having a teen on the autism spectrum...

1.  Fifteen years and counting and I have not had to endure a single boy band concert... except when my own mother, as part of her motherly penance, took me and my group of big haired friends years ago.  But so far so good in Ashlyn's case.  She has no interest and if she did, she would need ear plugs and industrial headphones just to step inside anyway, defeating the purpose of going in the first place.

2.  Fashion is a non-issue.  As long as it is comfortable she does not care.  I have ventured into one or two of those stores where you come out smelling like you dipped your body in their cologne but I think it was more for me than her.  For the most part, she could care less what she wears, what you wear, what I wear.  It's nice.

3.  While there may not be an over-abundance of eye contact going on over here it is not because she is staring down at a phone, texting someone who she would much rather be talking to than me, until her fingers fall off.

4.  You never have to wonder what she is thinking.  It just comes right out.  She will tell you if you are late, early, too loud, in her way, smell bad, you name it.  There is no beating around the bush and actually you can't say "beating around the bush" because if you do you will be told that that does not make sense.

5.  Curfews are a non-issue.  I remember the days of negotiating with my own mom and also the nights of trying to tiptoe in the house after the day of negotiating proved unsuccessful.  I can happily brag that I know where my teenager is every Friday and Saturday night.  If she is pulling an all-nighter it is because someone forgot the melatonin.

6.  We are saving on car insurance and on a million arguments over why she can't borrow the car.  For a little while we wondered if driving may be an option someday but Ashlyn put the kabosh on that when she remind us that she does not know her own strength so would "only push the gas pedal all the way down."

7.  I am still her friend.  I have noticed that there are other people, usually around the age of 15, whom she would much rather see than me but for the most part, time with Mom is still on her list of things she can tolerate and I can pretend that I am cool until the rest of my kids become teenagers and tell me otherwise.

8.  She is affectionate.  We never hit the don't-even-breath-on-me phase.  She will hold my hand, dish out the hugs and would no doubt sit on my lap with the rest of the kids if we weren't the same size and everyone could fit.

Ashlyn and her Papa at her first black tie event
9.  No drama.  Okay, we have our fair share of drama but it is more of the you-screwed-up-my-schedule or the-bus-is-late variety not that mean teen girl drama that occurs in every other household.  There is no catty, she said this and her boyfriend did this, going on over here which leads into my final and favorite thing about my teenager with autism...

10.  She is kind and innocent.  There is seriously not a mean, malicious bone in her body.  She will treat you the same whether you are rich, poor, famous, homeless, 2 years-old, 90 years-old, can't speak, can't shut up, she does not care.  She will never speak behind your back, whisper about your new 'do or spin the truth.

What you see is what you get and in an all-is-right-in-the-autism-world moment I know that I have a lot more to learn from her than she does from me.

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