A few minutes ago I was reading through my blog reader and I came across Diary of a Mom‘s post about the This is Autism flashblog. Now I’m not a big fan of flashblogs or jumping on a bandwagon just because someone else is there, but the I started thinking about Beth and wondering what she thinks about autism. Most of you know that Beth has co-morbid diagnoses of very early onset schizophrenia and autism, and most of you know that Beth isn’t aware of her schizophrenia diagnosis. She knows she has hallucinations, delusions, hears voices, and is unique in that respect but she doesn’t know the word schizophrenia. Anyways, after reading the blog I decided to ask Beth for her answer to the question “What is Autism?”.
“Autism is something that changes development in a child. It could be good or bad. For me, in a way, things are different than I expected but at least nothing bad happens, really. I think for me, being autistic is a good thing, but for some others it might be a serious condition.”
I left that as a comment on Diary’s post, but I started to think more about it and decided to write my own post. Beth answered that, like she typically answers questions, with the impatience of a person who believes that she’s been asked the question too many times. She never hesitated with her answer and I wrote it down word for word.
What I found surprising was what happened about 10 minutes later. Jolie was watching Dr. Who with her daddy and I was untangling some yarn when Beth started talking about how she’s the only 4th grader left who still has imaginary friends. She said the rest of her friends all gave theirs up already. She went to talk about how she tried to give hers up but they just don’t go away and she really likes them. I asked if they bother her at all and she said they don’t, she just doesn’t want to be the 4th grade baby because she still sees things and other kids don’t. I thought she already knew that she was fairly unique in that manner. After some talk about her voices and her “friends” (the ones she sees and others don’t) she decided that the best thing to do is to only talk about those friends with adults she feels she can trust. She left the room with a much lighter step and is now playing video games with her siblings.
I had never thought to ask her what her answer was to the “What is Autism?” question. I’m glad I did because not only did she confirm that she understands the spectrum that is autism, but it opened up another conversation she’s clearly been wanting to have.