Thursday, January 17, 2013

Joys of Autism: Character Embodiment

I have been looking through the archives of Temporary Insanity, revisiting the past and trying to determine a direction for the blog in the future.  I have noticed that the vast majority of posts with the label autism tend to be more on the negative side.  They speak of the challenges and unique difficulties in parenting a child with autism.  And while I wholeheartedly believe in being real and true to what I am thinking and feeling, I realize that there is a whole other side of autism that has been neglected completely on Temporary Insanity.  Yes, despite the struggles and tears, there are many beautiful things that autism has brought to our lives as well.  I call them "the joys of autism", and quite honestly, I would never get to experience these amazing blessings if I didn't have an autistic child.  Those of you that don't have any experience or contact with a child on the spectrum, please listen!  These joys of autism that I plan to share over the next several weeks will hopefully be insightful into the wonders of parenting our Beast.  And for those of you that have been as blessed as we are with a special needs child, take heart!  Use these posts to encourage yourself and remind yourself of the good things, especially on those days that can suck the life out of you.

Today, the Beast is David.  Yes, I know that's his name, but he really thinks that he is the David of the Bible today.  At breakfast, he regaled me with the tale of how he killed the giant Goliath.  He spent a lot of time on all the gory details, making sure that he mentioned as many times as possible that he was the hero of this story.  He likes to be the hero.  It gives him a sense of control in a body that doesn't always do what he wants.  People watching him retell the story would see only a boy awkwardly moving around, but in his head, he is David, and he is awesome!  In his mind, he executes every military movement flawlessly.  In his world, nothing is impossible!

I call this joy of autism "character embodiment."  Most days, my son is "not himself."  Just yesterday, he was Anakin Skywalker (before he became Darth Vader, of course), and last week, he was a ninja warrior.  Most kids love to dress up and pretend to be various favorite characters.  But David lives his characters.  His entire day revolves around what that character would do and how that character would act. He sinks completely into his role and does not come up for air for days, sometimes weeks, even.

Character embodiment is a joy of autism.  It is a window into his thoughts and feelings.  He may not tell me he loves me very often, but David the soccer star might give me an awkward punch on the arm and inform me that I'm his favorite teammate.  I'll take that!  And the tales he weaves like a master storyteller entertain me to no end and make my heart smile.  It's just a bonus that I can easily convince him that Anakin did indeed need a lot of sleep and would absolutely go to bed right now.

On the days that our Beast is withdrawn, quiet, and somewhere far away in a world of his own, I pray for David the warrior or David the ninja to make an appearance.  When one of his characters shows up, I know we haven't lost him completely.

And hey, who needs cable when you've got a David/Anakin/Spiderman/ninja/soccer star to entertain you?


  1. Anonymous3:02 PM

    I stopped by- I love to read your post! It is an encouragement to me.-K.S.

    1. thank you! glad to know it is helping someone else :)

  2. You are such a breath of fresh air!

    I have 2 nephews who are autistic and I TOTALLY get how they become someone else. One of those nephews does that and he sometimes really BELIEVES that he is a transformer. He'll be in the middle of a football game at school and all of a sudden start acting weird...he's "transforming." lol.

    The mother of this boy always focuses on the negative and the "why me's" was nice to see a positive spin to it.

    Thanks so much!


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