Autism and a New Pandemic Viewpoint
“You know, during this pandemic, I get less grief about not being near people.”
Who said this?
My son with autism.
What did he mean?
He meant that pre-pandemic he got “grief” from peers/people/fellow gamers, etc. about how he distanced himself.
Which meant that other people had noticed that he wouldn’t give eye contact and/or he’d stay clear of other people.
What did I say to him?
First, I absorbed the insight. My son is very capable of looking inward in this manner. I wasn’t ready for it since we were in the middle of helping my sister-in-law move, but I immediately (more internally than externally) acknowledged the introspective comment.
Second, I asked him a question.
“How does that make you feel?”
He shrugged and said, “I don’t know. I’m just noticing it, that’s all.”
We ended it there.
What is it about that comment?
Well, he admission that in the past (pre-pandemic) people in his life apparently had commented about how he fit in, or didn’t fit it.
Apparently, he was admitting to me that other people have said things to him along the lines of “Hey, why do you stand away from everyone?” or “Why don’t you stay with the group?” or something along those lines.
There are times that I “check in” with my son.
“How do other kids treat you at school?”
“Is there anyone bullying you?”
“Do you feel comfortable at school?”
“Are your peers at swimming being okay with you?”
Every so often, I’ll ask my son about his life, about how he’s doing “out there” by himself. In school. In his teen club. With his fellow swimmers.
Typically, I don’t receive the introspective thoughts/observations, etc. when I question him.
I guess he’s the kind of person who has to come to me.
And, he did.
Therefore, the comment meant that my son had acknowledged that there were times in the past when he either felt like an outside or was made to feel like an outside.
And, the comment meant that with the pandemic, people worldwide are purposely practicing what is now known as “social distancing.”
People are keeping distance from other people for a very good reason, to avoid getting sick.
Which, in turn, means what?
I guess it means that (recently) my kid feels more like he fits in.
He keeps distance from others just like everyone else.
In conclusion, I don’t think he meant is as such a big deal.
On the other hand, I took it as something very interesting.
In a new society where we all have to keep some distance from each other, a young man with autism feels more included.
That does mean something.
Is that good news or bad?
The jury is still out. My son acted like it was okay news, or, at least, acceptable.
I guess that’s all that matters.
Still, it does make one wonder.
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