I am different, not less.
One of Perry’s therapists, Jen, told me about this woman and the movie about her. She is brilliant. She revolutionized the cattle industry. She is an author. She is a public speaker. She is autistic.
Jen and I were discussing how autistic individuals report visually seeing things differently than we do. Temple describes this for herself and in the movie, about her life, they have altered the camera to try to mimic how she sees things. Although Perry can not yet tell us how he sees things, I observe many behaviors that indicate that he has some altered perceptions. For instance, he likes to watch things while upside down on his head. He stares into lights. He watches things out of his periphery. These aren’t just 1 or 2 instances of him doing this. These are things he does consistently, over and over again.
I have watched interviews with the real Temple Grandin. Immediately, I could see Perry. He has moments of genius when I play with him. I mean truly bright beyond I have seen in any of my children. Yet, he is unable to communicate most of these thoughts, abilities, and ideas to us. Temple was very similar, unable to speak until age 4. She had to be taught how to communicate and how to interact in order for her life to be as productive as it has been.
That’s what my job has been and will be for Perry. It is different than how I have raised my other boys. However, as in the words of her own mother, who fought to teach Temple instead of institutionalizing her, “Different, but not less.” Temple now describes this about herself. What a wonderful self belief. I am always telling my boys that being the same is BOR-ing. I encourage them to be who they are, even if that looks different because that’s what makes the world so beautifully diverse. At least that aspect of parenting will be no different with Perry.