“Are we on the same page?” I recently asked my high functioning autistic 21-year-old.
“Yes, we’re on the same page Mum, but I think we’re reading different books!” he replied. While we both had a bit of a laugh at this conversation, it made me stop and think about just how great this answer was for him. As we often believe we are speaking about the same topic, but, in reality, we may only be just in the same area of thinking.
While we did eventually end up on the “same page” it did take a whole lot of questions, answers, frustration and empathy to get onto the same page of conversation. It made me realise (and not for the first time), that we were so very different in expressing ourselves. Yet we all have valid expressions and emotions to express to the world.
I remember when we first started Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (C.B.T.) and #2 son started saying things like “I feel like a straight line”, “I feel like a dash line” or, “that person is a zig zag line.” To say I was more than a little confused was an understatement. Fortunately, our amazing CBT therapist really looked into these funny little comments and between him and #2 son worked out that he did understand emotions, basic personality traits and good and bad behaviour. However, he “saw” them. Like many people on the autistic spectrum #2 son is extremely visual and arty. Once we began to learn his “language of emotions” we were able to relate them to how others around him spoke about their emotions and how they felt.
Any wonder he was feeling so confused, imagine waking up in a country where no one speaks your language and isn’t willing to even meet you half way and help you to learn that new language. Obviously, its many years later and #2 son relates his emotions better now days.
However, if he has been over stimulated or is extremely agitated he will now tell me “I don’t have the words.” For me, this is a sign that he is really trying and needs extra processing time to workout:-
Having a child on the autistic spectrum is like going to another planet that you never ever thought you would visit. However, with patience, love and empathy you will not only survive, you might even learn a new language and culture which will make you a much better if not more interesting person.
For more information of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy visit https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/cognitive-behaviour-therapy-cbt