Susan's Blog

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the In Between

Where does bad end and good begin? If you think about it, there is actually a very faint line between the two. There is a spectrum, in this as in all things. Of course we know a bad thing, and we know a good thing. Just like we know autism, and we know NT. But there is so much in between.

What am I talking about, on this lovely Monday morning, when I’m supposed to be at the reservoir, running? Is it that my iPod needs charging? Have I had too much coffee, not enough sleep, increase in Prozac? All of the above. But there is more. You know how I’ve been talking about Nat’s increased level of anxiety over the last six months — probably sparked by too much Luvox, just like the Period of Too Much Zoloft, see chapter 8 — and the new kind of howling/barking/perseverative behavior that has come out of it? A discouraging, scary, heartbreaking thing, right?

Yes. And no. For just like during that difficult, frightening time when Nat was 11, he has also had a profound increase in his communication abilities. He is more connected to us than ever. He not only obsesses about what will be happening to him (“Go to Colorado, summertime.”), he also obsesses over what is happening with us (“Max will wake up soon. Daddy’s on his way home from work. Mommy’s going to finish the laundry [endless laundry, because the big pants and shirts worn by my gigantic sons take up so much space in the hamper, d’oh]”)

This is not news, of course. I have been chronicling the various heartstopping comments Nat has been making, his emergence, little tentative forays into NeuroTypicalLand, an unpredictable place of loud noises, where people communicate with too many words and strange shapings of their faces and bodies; where the rules are mostly unwritten but everyone seems to know them without being told; where impulse reigns and consistency is the hobgoblin of little (and spectrum) minds.

But there is something else that has come of all this upheaval. As Ned was climbing into bed last night, he said, “You know, Sue, it actually worked out great at dinner. If it weren’t for Nat — “
I said, “I know! If it weren’t for Nat, Ben would not have come with you to the bookstore after dinner.”
“But because he was scared of riding home in the car with Nat, he went with Max and me!” finished Ned. “And they were chatting the whole way, Kingdom Hearts this, keyblade, that.”

We looked at each other. We had never thought of it this way. We had only been thinking that Nat’s scary outbursts are something we need to get at and stop, something that scares the boys and is therefore a bad thing.

But every stone thrown into our pond has ripples. Nat is finding ways to weigh in, to say, “I’m here, and I don’t like what you’re doing! I want this, instead!” And he is forcing his brothers — who have heretofore tried either to manage or simply ignore him in order to find their own peace — to pay attention to him and change their own behavior. They might be a little afraid of him these days. But maybe that is not all bad. Maybe it is a heightened awareness, a tuning-in, to Nat, and to each other. And if that brings about more connection all around, then that, my friends, is a good thing.

Tabblo: Three Millions

My grandma once said of my (at that time, two) little boys, “I got two millions, one, two.”  And then she realized she had left me out, and she added, “And you’re the thoid.”  Here are my millions.  And I’m the fourth, I guess. … See my Tabblo>

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