Wednesday, January 5, 2011

One size does not fit all

Last week I heard a story on NPR about Asperger's Syndrome.  The experts argue about whether or not it should be classified as a mental disorder.  This doesn't surprise me because the autism spectrum is so broad.  Just where do you draw the line between where "normal" ends and "mental disorder" begins. 

Since we found out the boys were on the spectrum, I've met a lot of kids with autism. Now, almost three years later, I am starting to understand just how different each person on the autism spectrum is. It's not just the level of severity that can be different, but each kid can have such a different set of strengths and weaknesses.  Even my identical twins are not the same.  Ehren might not have perfect grammar or articulation but he is a very expressive speaker - no monotones there.  He cares about what peers think of him.  On the flip side, he is not a strong visual learner.  He doesn't enjoy reading.  Sometimes it frustrates him, and he just wants to quit.  Christian doesn't care much about impressing anyone.  He struggles a lot with remembering things he hears and with expressing himself verbally.  However, he has a completely amazing visual memory.  He can figure out how to put things together easily.  He loves reading.  He figures out new computer or video games before a lot of adults, and let's not forget that he was doing 50-piece puzzles when he was three.

Given the complexities I have seen in my own kids, it doesn't surprise me at all that there is controversy about how to define diagnoses on any part of the autism spectrum.

1 comment:

  1. I always thought Ehren and Christian were "normal" whatever that definition means these days. I don't think it's appropriate to classify anything with a definite label. I can't tell exactly how you feel about it from your post but I am guessing you feel similar. I wouldn't classify Ehren or Christian with a "mental illness."