Saturday, November 19, 2011

I don't know what is Bothering my Child

I am going to take a moment to make a point but it might not seem related to autism at first, so please bear with me.

I'm the kind of person who likes a stable foundation.  That sense of security really helps me to stay comfortable with who I am as a person.  I have mentioned before that those with autism have interests that they spend much time and energy learning about.  In this post, I am going to mention one film that really had an impact on me at a young age because they literally scared me.  I want to say that this fear did not directly threaten me in any way, and the fear I felt was irrational.  I have long since overcome that fear.  That film I am talking about is the Disney movie "Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book."

Last night, I found "The Jungle Book" on TV and decided to watch through it.  That is not something that I would have done even five years ago.  You might be thinking, how did I find that movie frightening?  Well, when I was younger I was really fascinated with quicksand.  When I watched one of the antagonists drown in quicksand turned that fascination into fear.  Why did it frighten me?  Because the moment he disappeared below the surface you could not separate the quicksand from the jungle path.  The fact that the very ground could hold a hidden threat was not something that my seven year old autistic mind was okay with.

I first saw this movie before I discovered that I had autism.  I had a few nightmares about quicksand and I would always talk to my friends about the question I so desperately wanted to know: does quicksand have a bottom or does someone keep sinking?  My autistic mind really focused on this fear for such a long time that I stayed far away from that movie.  That fear came back to me at different times in my life.  When I would see a person who looked like the man who drowned, I couldn't help thinking about that.  When I visited New Orleans and went on a swamp tour, I couldn't help thinking about the quicksand in that movie.  My fear and imagination had amplified quicksand into something it wasn't.  I have since learned that this was Hollywood's version of quicksand and in reality it was not as threatening.

The point I am trying to make in this post, is that if a parent to an autistic child notices that their autistic child is bothered by something, and cannot get the child to tell them what is bothering them, it may be something just like this.  In other words, it may be based on something that happened a long time ago and has nothing to do with the present moment.  In order to for the autistic child to get their parent to understand, they would have to tell the entire story, just like I did with this post.  It is not easy for an autistic child to do so, they might try to explain but the parent would not understand.  Things below the surface are hardly as they appear to be by examining a child's face.

I have hardly mentioned this fear to anyone.  I want to try to use this to help parents to better understand their autistic child.  It may be complicated but it is not impossible.  Never give up hope.

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