As a child begins to grow, we hope they can process information correctly and correlate it to improve how they function. Having a child with special needs means this is not always the case. The struggle is real. Sometimes, though, the struggling is just "making sense" of it all. In my son's case, it has been entertaining at times.
Lately, Chris has been on a camera kick. Everywhere we go, he has to look -point them out- and ask questions. I've made a list of the one's asked thus far.
1. Who watches through the camera?
2. How many are in the store?
3. How much do they cost?
4. Why do they have cameras?
5. Why can't I see my reflection in this one?
6. Can I get one -put it at the front door, and watch if someone steals something?
Asking these questions means he is trying to understand. This is awesome, however; try walking up to pay for your items and he begins to ask a cashier all those questions. There are definitely a few looks thrown my way- probably worried I'm having my son case the joint.
It also happened when I was at a car lot. As we walk in and he begins asking the owner, "how come you only have one camera" ..."do you record or just watch it". Inevitably, I have to say something, "My son has Autism." As if this is an explanation why my son is asking about the cameras. I suppose I'm hoping they hear "Autism" and don't question things further. I'm in the place for a specific reason, not to explain my son's way of feeling safe within a new environment. That in itself is a 5 page blog.
I've learned to deal with it and take the questions as they come, from him and other's as well. I've even decided that I will deliberately go to the same store, just so he can stop at the specific camera he knows. I now smile and wave at the "loss prevention" people knowing they were concerned when a child pointed at every camera in the ceiling thus far.
I have decided it's a way for Chris to understand and feel safe within his environment. It's something he has also chosen to learn. This fixation on cameras has led him to be the most knowledgeable child within the genre. He can prattle off Axis security cameras, cost, efficiency, and all kinds of intricate details.
Even though I have understood these things, for the first time, ever- his dad endured the pressures of Chris understanding the environment. Of course, he wasn't laughing when it happened, but the phone call to me about it, led to a good laugh afterwards.
Andy took Chris to a gentleman's house to look at a leaf blower. It's a fixer upper -just as he wanted. I think he's trying to get Chris to become a mechanic. Or at least see if he's interested in it. Anyway, it's a new place for Chris, picking up a new item, and not much daylight left. Being as Chris is Chris, he forgot to pee before leaving the house. He has no problem asking the man, whom he's never met, if he can use his restroom. The guy was apprehensive but understanding going outside in the freezing cold - just wouldn't do, he led Chris to the bathroom. After Chris drained his bladder, that's when it happened- Chris making sense of his environment led another to feel uncomfortable. He asked
1. Do you live here alone?
2. Do you have a dog?
3. Is there anyone else here now?
4. Whose house is this? Is it a house?
Here stands a father 6'4 ft. and his son - in the middle of nowhere-late in the evening-answering a craigslist ad, and the son asks those questions. Tell me, what would you think? Yep- the child is asking because his 6'4 ft. father is about to rob and kill you. I, of course, find it awesome Chris is attempting communication with a stranger, in an unknown place- trying to make sense of the environment. I'm also laughing, knowing just how awkward that situation was for the adults, meanwhile the 10 year old-my son, is just trying to understand the environment he is now in.
See, the man had three cars in the driveway and his living room used to be the garage. As Chris walked back to the bathroom, he saw most of the house, and wondered, "Why are there three cars-when he didn't notice anyone else in the house?" The dog was either because he smelled it but didn't notice one, or he has the correlation in his mind that a single older male, has a dog for a companion.
I think that we, as parents of our special ones, need to begin learning how our children make sense of the world. Instead of teaching them what we feel is suitable on "how to learn their environment", we need to learn how they perceive information - and then give them the tools to make sense of it.
My son shows me everyday -he is learning how to perceive people, places. and things. It shouldn't matter how he does it, but that he is. Unfortunately, we will always run into the issues where another's perception downplay's the triumph. Don't let it deter the happiness that your child is growing...and beginning to understand the world around them.
A mother of a special need child and advocate for all!