originally posted 8/1/10
Today Bird leaves with my husband KAM for a week at cubscout camp with 14 other boys from his elementary school. A week is a long time for Bird to be with that many typicals and their demands on him without the comfort of the familiar, his sister and brother and air conditioning which he needs to sleep but will live without. The demands thes children will unknowingly place would be things like looking at him as if he were a freak if he misspeaks, staring if God forbid he STIMMS (self stimulatory behavior…Birds are rare but almost always verbal something like sound effects or repetitive play) or his rare moments of being so stuck on the literal he is hard to reach with anything looking like common sense. He will surely make mistakes that brand him as a little strange to his peers especially for those who’s parents have not already told them Bird has autism or those who have been part of his growth over the years and flat out know he has autism.
It is really incredibly stressful to send your child into an environment knowing that he will fail but in failing he also we grow. You don’t usually get huge gains without a price in ASD World or Typical World it does not work like that at all. Smiling on the treadmill means you have not pushed yourself only magnify that times a ten thousand when dealing with changing gray matter!
Thankfully Birds dad is pretty vacuous to the social slights and occasional bad behaviors of other boys that really drive me apoplectic sending me into a near serial killer rage of wanting to tell parents that there children should OCCASIONALLY be observed so that they can learn how not to be so Lord of the Flies. But, the truth is that Bird will encounter ALL kinds of people in his life and have to deal with each and everyone of them without his over protective mother at his side (Thank You God for allowing him to come this far) and this is why he is out in the woods with dad and some really great boys and some not great boys.
He really needs to experience to learn like most people but more for kids with autism. Shelter while comforting for mom and dad is not creating children who are capable of living with the eclectic masses we all endure for good or bad each day. Autism does not come with the benefit of observational learning without lots of repetition and people often don’t give you a second chance so sending Bird off to fly and fall will bring change that will make his life less stressful as he grows but a little more stressful in the moment.
I know SOOO many parents who closet their kids and fear doing anything involving the typical world. I know a parent who’s child is infinitely more verbal than my son who never does anything with typical kids and he is 13 now. This child will find it really tough to live with his typical counter parts who challenge him, alienate him, insight him to want to strangle and love him but not in a way he is personally familiar with or experienced in which to him might not look like love.
Long and short is that if your child is not aggressive or self injurious they should start having exposure to other typical kids or they will NEVER understand how peers act and relate to them. The amount of time should be based on language and so should those social demands. The VB-MAPP by Mark Sundberg is a great guideline and should be used in determining how much time.
Be brave folks because others before have done it and survived and so will you!