Wednesday, April 24, 2013

All You Need is Love

     One of the more fascinating sides of autism, for me, is the person's ability to love. I think its incredibly unfair for the myth, that autistics can't connect emotionally, even exists. Xander loves a lot of things... people too. Its true that forming relationships is challenging for people with autism but the complete lack of ability is completely absurd!

     Like I said, Xander loves tons of stuff! He forms some of the most intense relationships with his things that I've ever seen. Like anyone else, he goes through phases. Originally, he loved Mickey Mouse. He has a doll we dubbed "Bad Advice Mickey" (picture in the link: tell me those eyes don't look shady, like he's up to no good.) Xander crawled for Mickey and later took his first steps when Mickey was dangled just a few feet away. Then poor "Bad Advice Mickey" got tossed aside when he discovered his love of rubber toys, specifically elephants. He worked for weeks to attempt to say "elephant," linking the idea that a soft elephant was the same as a realistic photo of one (which is a big step in comprehension when you have delays.) Giraffes and tigers came and went, currently we are on dinosaurs. Xander would happily "read" any book given to him if it had pictures of dinosaurs. Something about the giant brightly colored lizards thrills him like nothing else and he will take all he can get.

     A few months back, we made our first trip to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History downtown. Xander was in love. The look on his face when he saw the giant painting on the walls of prehistoric time was just priceless. Since then we have been one other time, when we started our "Great Dinosaur Hunt," an attempt to take a picture with all of the dinosaur statues in western PA. On that second trip, Alex bought him a small green plastic sauropod, which he hasn't let out of his sight since now weeks later.

who needs hands when you have a dinosaur and a jeep!
     To say Xander loves this toy is an understatement. They are something very important to him. He becomes so attached that he can't put them down and when he's in love with two toys that day, he's rather not use his hands than give up holding them. He feels so intensely for them that if something is changed or they are damaged, he goes into a rage. I recently made the mistake of removing his giraffe's horns and ears, because his chewing on them had damaged them, making them a choking risk. I have never regretted a simple action so much. 

     Xander loves us, his parents, our family and even a few select friends he's become very close to. Relationships with people are challenging for many people, myself included. So I hardly expect them to be easy for him. But he shows the ability to care deeply for something he gains joy from. Why does that need to be a bad thing? Sure, that week when he fell in love with the half full plastic gallon of water was a little weird but it filled a sensory need and made him happy. Friends make you happy, if they don't then they aren't really your friends. Who cares if they are plastic and can't talk back, sometimes no talking back is a good thing. 

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