Monday, February 16, 2009

An Asperger's Quirk

As most folks that read my blog know, our 19-year-old son has Asperger's Syndrome, which falls under the 'umbrella' of autism (currently). It's such a high-functioning autism, that most folks will only notice something quirky & odd about a person with Asperger's. But here's a little peek into what happens...

Most of us have something in our brains (subconscious voice?) that reminds us about changes in routine - whether it's a big report being due, bills needing to be paid, finals, whatever. We figured out a long time ago that this 'little voice' doesn't work so well for Trevor.

In 5th grade, he spent two weeks on his bird report. It was very nice - all about the Western Meadowlark, which is Oregon's State Bird. When it came time to turn in the report, a student in Trevor's class was assigned to go around and collect them from the class. This student missed getting Trevor's from him (don't know why) and so since no one had come to take his report from him, Trevor put it back into his desk, where it had been 'okay' to be until this point.

He completely missed the fact that it was DUE and needed to be handed in for his grade. Two weeks later when we find out he has a zero grade for the bird report, and I tell the teacher I'd been making sure it was being done & had been finished, he told us, completely unconcerned, "Oh - that's in my desk." At this point, Trevor didn't have a diagnosis of Aspberger's and it took a lot to let the teacher accept his report that late.

When he went off to OIT and was completely responsible for himself, I figured this whole missing 'little voice' would make things very tough. Trevor wound up cleaning his room through one of his finals, because he'd gotten the date wrong. The little voice didn't tell him to double-check times, and it didn't remind him that Thursday was the last day of finals, while Friday his room needed to be cleaned.

This isn't laziness or lack of concentration. He can have a planner, write everything down, and STILL miss something very important that the rest of us would get that little "ding! ding! ding! - big important thing to remember is happening today!!!"

This morning, Trevor got up at 5:30 am, took his shower, ate his breakfast, got dressed, took his medication, and got on his bike at 6:30 to head to the bus stop for school. There was no bus. There was no school. Today is President's Day.

Thing is, he actually had checked on Friday to see if there would be school today, and was told it was a holiday. So he already KNEW there was no school today. He went to bed last night at 10:30, so it's not like he didn't get enough sleep. Obviously he's not overindulging in alcohol or drugs - another Asperger's trait - he's very black/white with things that are not legal.

The routine is to get up at 5:30am on Monday, etc., etc. Almost all of us would have remembered when the alarm went off, "Oh yeah - It's a holiday today!" and turned off the alarm and gone back to sleep.

Maybe a few of us would have made it as far as the shower, possibly the breakfast. But I can bet that NONE of us would have ridden a bike in the dark & cold for 20 minutes to a bus stop before we realized there was no school today.

Personally, I rely on that little 'something' to tell me a lot of stuff in my day-to-day life. As frustrating as it is for me to live with trying to raise a kid without it, how hard must it be for HIM?


keeka said...

Maybe last night he should have turn off his alarm? That is what I do on days I don't need to get up! Of course my alarm clock has an easy no alarm button, so I don't have to reset the whole thing. Poor Trevor!

Anonymous said...

Is it bad that I laughed at it? Not AT him but because he went through the day like normal....I KNOW its because of his aspergers though.....but c'mon you KNOW i would have done the SAME thing before realizing it.....Its why I love Trevor...

Tina said...

Actually, after he came back all mad at himself and said he was going back to bed, Lee & I had to laugh too.

And he knew he couldn't blame anyone but himself! Hopefully, this was a strong enough experience he'll pay better attention next time?