We love Big Bang Theory! From the time our son was diagnosed we have always had friends & older family members who had a hard time understanding what was going on with him. ‘He’s just an odd kid’ or ‘He’ll grow out of it’ were common sayings that made us want to pull our hair out. Slowly as shows like Parenthood became more popular they showed some of those people what we go through daily people started to get it. Even more than the heavy story lines of parenthood, Big Bang & Dr. Sheldon Cooper came to the rescue showing the masses that these kind of people are not only productive members of society but they are awesome! It wasn’t just a win for getting people to look at kids with Asperger’s in a different light but it was a release for patents like us, a time to laugh & say ‘he totally does that!!’ Last night we settled in to watch the most recent new episode in which Penny & Sheldon do an experiment to see if they can fall in love by going through questions. Aside from the fact that the episode was hilarious there was a moment where he went all high functioning autistic on us talking about how he wished he could read minds because facial expressions & social cues were so hard to understand. He told penny he was envious of her because she could do these things so easily. While millions of people tuned in & laughed & laughed again at the antics the characters were going through I couldn’t help but take a second to realize that while all these NT people are laughing there are scores of parents just like us watching, welling up with a tears at the realization that it’s going to be okay that our kids aren’t the same as yours. It’s a big deal that the writers add these kinds of story lines. When someone comes along who doesn’t have contact with one of these kids & 10 years ago would have just written them off as an odd ball now they associate them with someone like Sheldon making them, even unknowingly, more accepting of our kids!
Is it a cure for autism… kind of yeah! Because the kind of cure we need is acceptance & awareness! Autism isn’t chicken pox, it’s not something that is going to go away after taking a pill or drinking a fruit smoothie. Granted there are a boat load of opinions on these last two sentences but even if you do think autism is something that is curable we can all agree that awareness & acceptance is always a good thing.
TV has a lot of really bad shows that are just mindless but sometimes you run into one that really strikes a chord. Before my son was diagnosed with Autism we had our suspicions. He had always had his challenges & difficulties. He had always been a bit odd or different from the other kids but in small town Oklahoma not only do you not know what to do about it you can’t find anyone who knows anything about it! The turning point was NBC’s show Parenthood, one of the kids was diagnosed with Aspergers on the show. After watching we realized that it fit how our son acted with a shocking amount of accuracy so that was our breaking point, we sought out someone who was familiar with Autism Spectrum Disorders & made his appointment or evaluation.
CBS’sThe Big Bang Theory is another one of those show that just hit the nail on the head! So after watching a run of episodes these last couple of days I’m realizing how accurate they really are & how shows like this that not only humanize people on the spectrum but also put a positive or humorous spin on it and it really does help with awareness & acceptance. I’ve already tried my hand at identifying cartoon characters that I think are on the Autism Spectrum, view that blog post here. In honor of one of my favorite characters on television, Dr. Sheldon Cooper, I thought I would share some of my favorite parenting skills that I have learned from Sheldon about raising a kid on the spectrum.
Pick Your Battles – “My Shirt Is Itchy And I Wish I Were Dead!” Pants are the wrong texture, the collar of this shirt lays on my neck wrong, I can’t wear green today! You learn to not only pick your battles but you learn what real battles are! This isn’t even worth fighting over for me. He has a whole closet full of clothes in there so lets just find something that is going to be acceptable. As long as its not a silk button up shirt with cats & wizards on it I’m totally happy! PICK YOUR BATTLES PEOPLE!
Doing ‘Stupid’ Things – Okay, I’ve learned that this is a pretty big one. There are things that we do in this word that are stupid or silly when you think about it. Case in point? Easter Eggs, Valentines Day, little white liess, Elf On The Shelf, the list goes on & on but what most people don’t have is the pleasure of having a kid that will be happy to point out how stupid those things are & you know what..? Sometimes I can’t really sum up with a single reason why we do the things we do but we have to & yes it may be stupid but we have to do it! We all have family, little brothers, moms, school teachers, & others who have expectations & the while I expect the world to be accepting or accommodating of my son, I expect my son to learn to be the same with the things he doesn’t like or understand. “Let’s do this stupid thing” for a kid with High Functioning Autism or Aspergers is the same as when other parents say to their NT kids “Because I said so!”
Manners – “If you don’t mind, I’d like to stop listening to you & start talking.” How many of us can hear these words coming out of our own kids mouth? Then again, after thirty minutes or so of listening to the technical breakdown of how something works in Minecraft I am pretty close to saying something along these lines as well. I find it funny that if these words came out of my sons mouth he would probably think it was still considered acceptable manners because he said it politely instead of just starting to talk right over you. Everything is a work in progress! 🙂
Celebrate The Small Things – If my son would eat a slice of pizza I would probably throw a party! Probably not a pizza party but a party none the less. I have bribed, threatened, tricked, lied, & my way to making him try new foods & you know what? None of that ever works. You have to just present opportunities for expansion of foods & reward/celebrate the small victories. Even if that victory is that you, the parent, made it through the day & the small celebration is a glass of wine & a bowl of ice cream from the pint you had hidden behind the mini corn dogs in the back of the freezer so no one else in the house would jack it from you… not that I know anything about that!