Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Trendy? Who, Me?

Apparently, the latest trend is to have a kid with Aspergers Syndrome. It's hip. It's now. It's the millennial thing to do.

Is it just because I'm living in Aspergerland myself or is it really popping up everywhere as the disorder du jour?

Last night, I watched five minutes of Parenthood with Brad. The episode got our attention because it featured some parents with an Asperger child. Of course, they were stereotypically uptight and overeducated, with a card catalog of specialists and a whole bunch of psychoterms thrown into the conversation. Their kid was out of control and very very weird. It was funny and it wasn't.

Ninety-five percent of me was thinking, This is entertainment? Why should I watch this? I live this. But another little part of myself could not look away. It was like looking into a funhouse mirror. Wow. Is THAT what we look like? Is that what the rest of the world sees?

This is the book I'm into right now. The story of Jacob, a boy with Aspergers who is on trial for murder. I would've bought it even if I didn't have such a personal interest. I think Jodi Picoult is fun to read.

Although I'm not far into House Rules, I'm enjoying it. Picoult serves up her usual cast of characters--the overwhelmed and self-sacrificing mother, the resentful sibling and the big-hearted cop. I can identify with all the characters, which is the great thing about Picoult's writing. And maybe it's therapeutic to read something far-fetched with a heaping dose of my reality stirred in.

I've said it before. My feelings about media + autism are mixed. While I'm grateful for greater exposure and understanding, I'm also worried about stereotyping. And I don't want to look as if I'm just a trend-follower, grabbing at the latest excuse for poor parenting.

Anyway, I can't help it. Whether it's going through in vitro, having twins, or adopting, my millenial parenting experences aren't novel, they are the norm these days. And I guess I'm in good company.

But thinking about the whole thing makes me want to do something completely untrendy and nonmillennial.

You know, like blog...


Christie said...

You have always been ahead of your time, as the stylish perms and cuffed jeans will attest. Just find the next thing and let me know ahead of time. I want to set trends.

Claire Wessel said...

ya know, I watched the pilot for Parenthood and between the baseball game and the Aspergers, I had the same thought as you! I already have to live that, why in the world would I watch that to relax at the end of the day?? Needless to say, I'm not watching episode two!

I've recently been looking for a new state to move to for better services for my newly-diagnosed as autistic child (because I have no faith that my current school district is going to do much for her) and I keep finding that Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Minnesota are top notch for autism services, especially PA. I'm thinking I'm not the only person who has considered a state hop for decent services so maybe that is why you feel surrounded by the ASD crowd :)

I just posted about that Temple Grandin movie yesterday and some thoughts on our autism situation. Hop on over to my blog and check it out :)

Tristan said...

I agree that any form of autism has become "trendy". I think it is kind of sad too. Parents use it as an excuse for their own lack of parenting which causes their child's behavioral problems.

I have a niece who is autistic and it is pretty obvious. But my sister in law is a great Mom. And I think you are also an amazing Mom. So I think it is kind of unfair for those of you who have genuine autistic children.

The book you are reading sounds fascinating.

brooke said...

I think the book sounds interesting. I'm always curious what it really would be like to have a child with an autism spectrum disorder. I know books and movies can never really give me the full picture but it does give me a glimpse into your world.

I remember watching A Beautiful Life and for the first time, gaining the smallest understanding into what it would be like to have schizophrenia. My sis-in-law has it and it gave me more empathy for her.

It does seem a lot of disorders or problems are more common these days--even peanut allergies seem to be more common--who knows why?

Robin said...

Ack! I just wrote a long supportive comment and somehow lost it! Ack!

It is trendy.
You are not like the people on the show. you are much much better.

Rochelleht said...

Is there a tv show out there about wiping a 12 year old's butt? Cause that I could get into. It would be nice to feel trendy. ;-)

martha corinna said...

If something is trendy I recoil, unless it's really important to me. I guess I didn't notice that asperger's was trendy but my relationship with the media is waning so...

What does get me is when people ask me if I'm sure that Lulu is an asperger, like I would would spend $2500 a month and give up my sacred afternoons for therapy because I need attention or something? Seriously, I get more attention than I need from my church calling, I don't need this. I think part of the problem is that autism spectrum kids (especially asperger females) can seem like everyone else, until you spend some significant time with them.

diane said...

I watched that episode. The last scene was so touching as the adult son was trying to get his father to understand.

Jessica said...

I've read 2 books and watched 1 movie about Autism/Aspergers in the last 3 months. Looks like I should add this one? (And since Lorelei Gilmore is in it, I really must...)

p.s. The movie, "Adam", was really good. Have you seen it?

Lauren in GA said...

From what I know of you in the blog sphere and what Jeni are an amazing mother. I am betting that the world does not see anything bizarre when they observe you parenting your sweet boy.

Do you think Aspergers Syndrome is more common now or do you think that they didn't have a diagnosis in say, the 50's? I struggle with depression and I wonder if it was just as prevalent back then but we have a diagnosis and medication, now?

Travelin'Oma said...

I have mixed feelings about the media making a cause trendy. Partly I'm glad it's getting attention, and partly I'm bugged that it gets noticed just because someone famous is dealing with it. I had postpartum depression 30 years ago and nobody cared. It was called baby blues then.

I remember kids when I was growing up who were different, but there was no name for it. Some were funny, some were annoying, and others were behavior problems. I wish I could go back in time and be nicer to them.

You are an awesome mom to all four of your kids, and they are thriving with your love and concern for their individual needs.

Lauren in GA said...

Wonderful Oma answered my question.

the wrath of khandrea said...

i just had a long discussion with some other staff members about aspergers kids compared to more cognitively delayed students, and why the mainstream kids can pick and choose which disorders are acceptable enough to warrant compassionate treatment.
when the disorder is harder to "see", then people just chalk it up to "weirdness." we do an awesome mapping program to help counteract that mindset. it works really well.
i wonder how we could do societal mapping? maybe that's what hollywood and these authors are doing, in their own ways???

the queen bee said...

Hi Gabi- long time no talk. ;)
I didn't get to see the show but I heard about it.
I have mixed feelings about the media also- yes it's great to get more info out. But it's also heartbreaking when people lump you in with "following the trend." My JJ is definitely more moderate to severe on the spectrum.
I'm grateful that because of awareness he has programs that wouldn't have existed 10-15 yrs ago.
When I was talking to a friend today about the "trend" aspect of it, she commented that autism isn't a trend that most people would CHOOSE to follow (like pegged pants or Body Glove).
The bottom line, I think, is that every kid on the spectrum is SOOOO dang different (just like every kid on the planet), so stereotyping really doesn't help anyone. I think that's the biggest challenge with my J- what works for others on the spectrum, doesn't work for him. But that's also just the frustrating part of motherhood- I can say the same for my other 2 kids too. What works for their friends, won't work for them. You just do the best you can and learn along the way. It's sure an adventure. :)
Enough with my soapbox.
p.s. How are you helping Jake (or your other 3 for that matter) prepare for the big move?

Mique (as in Mickey) said...

Gabi- just to clarify...that last comment was from me, Mique. :)

Matt and Brianna said...

Hello. You don't know me but a friend of mine Michelle Petttit gave me your blog address. Her and I have been friends since 6th grade but since high school lost touch. We were reunited via Facebook (another wonderful "trend") And she gave me your blog address. I love your writing! I have 2 autistic children and a preemie who has some mild (cuz he is cruising right a long) dev. delay. I would to be blogging buddies!!

Matt and Brianna said...

um... I meant I would LOVE to be blogging buddies :)

Also, have you watched Temple Grandin on HBO? It was very wonderfully done. It gave me insight to my babies, and how THEY see the world.

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