Why Can’t He Be Normal? | High Functioning Autism
Why can’t he be normal? These words cross my mind often. And each time I make up a reason why he can’t be normal: why he can’t do what other kids are doing or not doing.
At a recent school function I muddled through my thoughts over and over as I sat through the twins’ awards ceremony.
It’s kind of funny. Each twin acts totally different. Different quirks. Different struggles and different strengths.
But then again, we are talking about the spectrum where every kid is different.
If you ever want to pick out your kid’s quirks, analyze them while he or she is among other kids, this is an ideal time to do compare and contrast. (yes, can’t you hear the dripping sarcasm)?.
I watched as Z2 sat, “normally” occasionally talking to a few classmates.
Z1 was the total opposite. He couldn’t sit still. He fidgeted every few seconds. When a kid’s name was called and he or she went up to get their award, Z1 flapped his hands together in excitement. He put his hand up for every kid to high-five him as they walked past him. Most kids obliged (Thank God!). He wants other kids to see him, acknowledge him and he wants to matter to them. He doesn’t want to be the one who has to initiate friendship all the time. He desperately wants other kids “to want” to do things with him for no other reason than they genuinely want his company. He has told us as much in so many words.
I looked at my husband and we both shook our heads, thinking the same thing. “Will he ever grow out of this? Will he be able to sit normally at these functions like the rest of the kids?” When will the quirkiness wear off? We know the answer already, and the answer terrifies and scares of to no end.
I surveyed the room of his peers. most of them were sitting “normally” awaiting the next thing, some had their names called. others didn’t. And even though some kids weren’t being perfect or ideal students they still fit in. Or maybe I am I just hyper-aware? Maybe I am blowing his awkwardness out of proportion. Am I? I watched Z1 as he bounced, flapped is arms, rocked back and forth and generally fidgeted non-stop. Yes, I am a bit paranoid as I watch him, because I think if I notice his unusual behavior I wonder if others are noticing too and judging him negatively.
I’m going to go out on a limb and admit this. Sometimes I am embarrassed by Z1’s behavior. He flaps and does his quirky things. At times, he uses a high-pitched voice when he gets excited. And he screams (usually when he is happy or excited about something). I know his brother Z2 gets embarrassed by his brother’s unusual behavior and often reminds him to stop being weird.
Z1 hates it when his brother calls him out on his odd behavior. He’ll say at times in his defense, “It’s okay to be weird…” or “Don’t worry about it, people accept me for who I am …” Naturally he gets defensive, gets upset and rightfully gets a little sad. But honestly, who likes being attacked for just being who they are? My heart goes out to our little man. After such critiques Z1 will mope around in a funk for a while. On one hand he knows that how “he acts” is a turn off to some of his classmates. He gets it. The other night we were watching an award show on t.v. and after a while we noticed Z1 had somehow disappeared. We called for him to come back down and join the family. He did so reluctantly, but when he came downstairs we noticed he had been crying. Getting Z1 to talk is an almost impossible task at times. Long story short. He was upset about how other kids treat him or rather not treat him. One thing about all of our boys is their strong sense of fairness. Neither of them like mean spirited, rude or unfair behavior. He had worked himself up into such a state, saying through a streaming veil of tears, “Its not fair, I am trying to change but I am just weird… I am never going to have any friends.” We were speechless. How can you assure and reassure your child that everything is going to work out for the best when you don’t know. We hold him and kiss him and show him we love and adore him immensely in spite of what others may think or act towards him.
It’s like there is a war going on inside of his head and at times the “quirky’ side gains the upper hand and at times its like he’s not even on the spectrum. Yep, so it is only fitting that he annoyed when his brother critiques the way he acts and he’ll get his spirits down for about a minute, but then five seconds later he is right back to doing the same “quirky” thing. He can’t help it.
It’s part of who he is.
And that’s just his “normal.”
When I start to think about it, are any of us really “normal?” And what does “being normal” really mean?
Maybe back 15-30 years ago, this type of behavior was handled with a straight jacket and a heavy dose of a psychotropic drug.
But over the years, we have evolved into a more understanding and tolerant society.
And why should I be embarrassed? This is my kid. My little sweet baby that was created and borne out of love . This quirky and devilishly handsome and sweet child of mine is a gift to the world and I love him dearly.
Z1 can’t help but to be happy for others. For him the flapping is involuntary, he doesn’t even know he’s doing it. It is what it is. Our boy gets flappy, its as simple as that. Period.
He was also excited because he was getting an award too for having A’s and B’s. And that’s something to be celebrated.
Why should he have to sit still? Why can’t he clap or flap his hands in excitement for the other kids? These are all things that make Z1 who he is. A sweet, nurturing, sensitive soul that wants the best for every human and creature.
If I was to take away his flapping or his other quirks, would he be “normal” then?
And maybe he won’t ever fit into society’s definition of “normal,” and that’s okay.
Yes, I ask why can’t he be normal?
But when he turns around and gives me a huge grin with his eyes lit up with excitement, that’s all the normal I need.
Maybe he won’t ever sit still. Maybe he will always flap his hands.
And just maybe, the rest of the world will just have to deal with it and accept this “normal.”