Tuesday, June 14, 2011

And teacher becomes the student (GBE2 week #4)

As most of you know, I'm a mom. 

I have four awesomely crazy/awesomely awesome kids.  Three boys and a girl.

I could write tons about each one of them...and, over time, I probably will.  But today I'm writing about child #3--Ian-Thayer or Bear as he's been called since the day he was born.

Bear has autism.

He's on the very high functioning end of the autism spectrum and, to most of the world, just appears to be 'a little bit different'.

To steal a line from The Mom Cave, he has 'a little bit of autism'.

He is smart, funny, charming, demanding, behavioral, and challenging---often all at the same time.

But I don't know any other person who is more comfortable in their skin--more in control of who they are--than Bear.

I was reading this blog.

It's about having 'the talk' with your autistic child--the talk where you tell them about their autism.  Bear and I had this talk almost four years ago but I loved this post and I became inspired by her idea of Google-ing all the autistic people that are famous or have made amazing contributions to society.

I wanted to do this with Bear.....if he was receptive to the idea. 

I approached the idea with him during a massive downpour on the way to the post office.  Since it was just the two of us, with no distractions, I figured this was a perfect time to ask him if it was something he'd be interested in doing.

I expected him to say no.  And he did.  But it's the reason that astounded me.  I figured he would just say that it was too boring or that he had better things to do....

He told me that it wasn't necessary to see a list like that.  Because such a list implies that there is something wrong with having autism.  Something so wrong that we need to have lists of great people who have autism just to prove that it's not as bad as you think it is.  The list's existence alone must mean that people believe having autism is a negative thing.

I tried to explain about closed-minded people and people who automatically spew hatred at anything that is different and unusual--and keep it on an eight year old level.

I told him that some (but not all) people are scared of different and unusual.

His answer blew me away.

He said "What's wrong with having autism?  I have autism.  I am different.  There's nothing wrong with being different.  I like being different."

Apparently, my son has been gaining wisdom and maturity behind my back.

And I love him all the more for it.


  1. Can't imagine Bear without autism. He'd be one boring kid! LOL. Love you Bear!

  2. As you may know, I have a Granddaughter that is also on the "high functioning end of the Autism spectrum". Like "Bear" she often amazes us with her wisdom. My Daughter Wendy often tells me she thinks her Daughter,(my Granddaughter}, is on the leading edge of "evolution"! Great Write!!

  3. Wow, your son sounds pretty amazing. Great post!


  4. Out of the mouths of babes. He sounds very bright.

    Have you ever read The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night Time? Great book with a main character who has autism.


  5. Really great post and insight from a young child!

  6. i am BEAR hear me ROAR...and emerge from hibernation HUNGRY for the truth alone. selah
    LOVE THIS MUAH! made my day

  7. Wow, that's really awesome of him. Although it sounds like you're raising him in such an atmosphere that he must feel comfortable with himself! I love hearing stories like this.

  8. @Gary I think Wendy might be on to something :)

    @Kathy Well, I think he's pretty amazing...I might be a tad biased ;)

    @Joyce I haven't read that book...but I think I'll check it out!

    @Alana Thanks :) I was rather impressed with his insight on this

    @Brenda Thank you! I'm glad that you enjoyed it!

    @Maggie We're not perfect parents by any means...but Jeffrey and I do try to make sure we treat him the same as the other kids...unless it's apparent that we have to make an adjustment for him. Bear definitely keeps things interesting around here :)

  9. I've spent 47 years trying to be comfortable in my skin and I'm still not quite there. Bear, you are awesome! *hugs from across the pond*

  10. Bear truly is wise beyond his years. The same is true for those of us with ADD. We have always appeared to be different and now there are loads of people coming out about ADHD and what they've achieved. But, I have to say, I think those "lists" are more for the naysayers than for those so afflicted. I do wish, though, that I'd gained Bear's wisdom decades ago. It took a long time to accept my "difference".

  11. Thanks for posting this about Bear. I have a daughter with High Functioning Autism...well...technically she's been given PDD-NOS by one doc and Asperger's by another doc and well...nothing is ever consistent there. She knows she's different and she wants to just fit in and be normal. Like bear she doesn't believe anything is "wrong" with her. I wish she was comfortable in her own skin...and to a degree she is...but at the same time, she doesn't want to be seen as different apart from everyone else. She'll question it a lot. Why do I have to be so different? And no reasoning will make her understand it is okay to be different and even cool to be beating your own drum. She just wants to blend in. How I wish I could give her what she wants. It is tough some days.

  12. That is awesome. Wish I had that kind of wisdom and maturity at 38.

  13. My daughter is Autistic as well, and she does not talk: she regressed back to babbling when she was about 18 months. However, I know once she starts talking, she's going to be even smarter and more eloquent than I could ever hope to be.

    People say I make really good points in conversations: wait until they see my Mini Me! :)

    The Kate Escape GBE2: control

  14. Bear is miles ahead of half the adults I know. Go Bear! :O)

  15. What a bright boy and awesome story! He sounds like a great kid. :)

  16. @Mojo I'm almost 36 and I'm still not completely comfortable LOL

    @Jenn The lists being for the naysayers never occurred to me until I had this talk with Bear...and I'm sure the same applies for all our "differences"

    @Jenn He is wise (and PDD-NOS as well but it's ALL on the autism spectrum!) but he even has his moments where the differences hit him. Last night, he was especially behavioral over attending extended school year because all the other kids get a full summer vacation :)

    @Marian Thanks...I like him, I think I'll keep him :)

    @Steven Me too!!

    @Kate I have a friend whose son is also autistic. She was told her son would never speak and he's now in the 4th grade...in a regular classroom and is quite the chatterbox! Your mini-you will be awesome!!

    @Beth He is one smart cookie :)

    @ResidentGamer Thank you! I think he's pretty awesome

  17. Your post sent me going into memories of our talks and the same conclusion-it is our differences that makes us great and there is nothing wrong with being different. Your "Bear" is awesome!

  18. Thanks for sharing your son's experience! Kids are amazing. Young kids have a different way of looking at a problem than we adults do. I am constantly learning from them and taken back by their innocence. It is so beautiful. "Bear" is a bright one!

  19. Love this, for more reasons then this forum can hold...HUG !!!

  20. Thank you everyone for all the nice words, encouragement and support for this post!


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