Friday, May 11, 2012

Describing a dog... ASD post

Parentville for Aspergers Syndrome and the whole Autism Spectrum Disorder realm is a curious place to dwell.

I have had people tell me my son is very typical of the behaviours, I have had others say there is "absolutely no way" that my gorgeous boy fitted the profile. People who have a loved one with ASD have judged, using their own loved one as the measuring stick. I have heard the words "He's not bad enough", "you are making this worse than it is", " He is nothing like my nephew" and "if he's not rocking in the corner, it's not autism".

The fact is there is nothing typical about kids and adults who slip and slide along the ASD spectrum. Issues which are ISSUES for one may be completely irrelevant for another. One may be verbally non-communicative but a musical genius, another will talk and talk and talk and talk but has zero musical ability or interest. One might find water of all kinds fascinating and another freaks out at the mere mention of a bath. One will eat everything in sight including chalk and dirt while another may have impeccable eating manners but only consume foods which are green. 

Humour me and picture in your head a dog. Got it? okay... now lets describe it...

We've got four legs, ears, nose, mouth, waggy tail and says "Woof". So far so good.
Hmm.... experts and 'experts' want more information. the questions keep coming.......

Is it tiny like a Chihuahua or enormous like a St Bernard?
Does it have long fur like a Red Setter, curly fur like a Poodle or short hair like a Pug?
Does its ears stand up tall like a German Shepherd or do they droop to its shoulders like a Beagle?
Does its bark break windows or does it just whine and use sad eyes to communicate?
Does it jump into the river for a swim or does it cry and shake like a leaf at bath time?
Does it run around with boundless energy all day or does it sleep 23.5 hours out of 24?
Does it eat anything and act as the family vacuum cleaner or is it fussy and prefers top of the range princess doggy food.
Does it chase anything that moves and retrieve balls, toys and small animals or does it look confused and just raise an eyebrow when you ask it to fetch.

Chances are when you pictured a dog in your mind, you pictured your dog, or a dog you know. But your dog doesn't look like or behave like my dog.

My experience of a dog is a very neurotic black mini poodle who thinks she's a cat, who never goes outside by choice and who's best friend is a bossy kitten.
My friends experience of a dog is a Border Colly who has never been inside the house, who chases kittens for sport and who takes gleeful delight in ripping apart outdoor furniture.

But they are both dogs. They look, behave and respond nothing like each other, but they are both dogs.

I'm pretty sure you understand my point here but I'll say it anyway. Just like everything else in life there are variations and in ASD there can be enormous variations.

Please take care to not judge by comparison. Parents of these kids have struggled through the diagnosis process, they have filled out countless forms, assessment tools, questionaires and profiles. They have had every aspect of their parenting and family life scrutinized to ensure that the childs behaviour is not due to lack of discipline or focus. They have had so many meetings with teachers, occupational therapists, speech therapists, doctors and psychologists, they too have wondered in the wee small hours if they have imagined all the problems. They have had moments of sheer panic as they face all the questions of "what if" and "what now"? The very last thing they need, after they have found their peace with their childs diagnosis, is for someone to question this diagnosis and the motivation behind it.
Be respectful.
Be gentle.
Be supportive and be open to new experiences and concepts.
If you can't do that then please
Be quiet.


  1. Individuals are just that - I N D I V I D U A L S !!!!! Quirky, non-conforming, outside the square but valuable human beings nontheless! We can learn so much from these people - they are the Einsteins of this world - without them we would not have the progress they bring or the humour they can bring to a situation! Love them all!! AND their parents deserve a medal for loving, nurturing and defending those who can change the world but have no way of communicating to us "normal" beings!
    Teachers who try to suppress these little dynamos of radical energy are losing the opportunity of nurturing a future World Peace solver, a cancer Curer, or just a plain ordinary genius whose potential is missed. And yes, I'm biased - but who cares!

  2. Nicely put Lisa. It's something we can all keep in mind about everyone and everything. Have a great weekend x

  3. This is sooo true. Thanks for saying it.


Your comments are welcome, please be kind and respectful. We all have different views of the world, sharing your view with gentle words is Lisa