Personality or Trait

After all these months of ABA therapy, we see Raiyan’s personality shine through more and more every day. His temper tantrums are long gone and he now expresses his disappointment by just crying in a tolerable volume and he would always stop after some efforts at negotiations to make him feel better. He is definitely not as fussy as he used to be and really doesn’t mind when things don’t go exactly as planned and he is also more welcoming to trying out new things. He is also very imaginative with his playing now. Just this morning, he was scooping out “vanilla, banana, chocolate and strawberry ice-cream” for everyone using his play-doh set. I point these characteristics out because how Raiyan was before the therapy in these areas are well known to be traits of autism so I guess we proved science right that through the therapy he has been getting, he has come out a more open minded person after overcoming the need for routine and the rigid resistance to change.

In his earlier years and especially since we were oblivious to any suspected disorders, we had always just accepted that it was his personality that made his behavior seem to border OCD! He would insist to change his clothes even if there is a tiny spill on it. When being called over, he would always first put back his toys on the shelf and arrange them neatly before his mind could rest and come to us. He would only eat his meals using the same set of bowls and cutlery. He would insist to have all buttons buttoned up, whether they’re his or others. He would freak out if you change the lyrics to a song he knows. But now, I can honestly say that none of these things bother him anymore. Apart from the constantly messy playroom, of course we are happy to see this happen! It’s such a relief to not have to constantly worry about his strict rules and we are definitely altogether more relaxed generally when compared to before.

There are still some things that others can easily construe as the autism, such as the ego-centricity in that everything has to revolve around him and he doesn’t really get the concept of others around him needing to do the same things as he. There’s still the nonchalant stubbornness that if he decides to not want to do something, he just simply WON’T and there’s hardly any other way around it. Loyal readers of this blog would know that there is still the obsession with the animals and how not a day goes by without animals playing a big role in his life. And much to our astonishment, he has retained much of his amazing memory skills! Just last week, he told Jeff how he wants to go to Jungle Gym and play in the ball pool and on that note, he also told Jeff that the ball pool has 7 different colours altogether in it. Though I don’t remember exactly what the colours were, I can tell you that they were completely random colours (in case you think he just copied off colours from the rainbow) and Jeff checked and Raiyan was basically right about them! Isn’t that bizarre? I’m sure one would still think THAT as an autism trait.

I guess with everyone knowing Raiyan to be autistic, that stereotype will always stick on him, despite everyone close to him being more inclined to think of it as just being HIM and not necessarily the autism. At the same time, with more therapy do I risk him losing more of these so-called “traits” as how he has lost the earlier ones I mentioned?
It really is a fine line between trying to help Raiyan flourish in this world independently but at the same time to not take away the very essence of him. Of course I see how terrible it is for anyone to be told to change the very essence of him or her. As how the neurodiversity group has time and time again advocated, it is like others telling you that you’re not good enough for this world as you are and that you have to change for it by possibly sacrificing your own personality.

I still think that no one can ever know where that line lies and no one can ever really be sure as to when it is a trait that you want to try and remove and when is it really a personality that cannot and should not be touched.

All I know is even within myself there are some flaws of me that I’ve always tried to battle and improve and yet have found it to still be stubbornly there. And I do find myself getting slightly mentally disturbed when I am pressured to get rid of it. But that’s not to say that I’m just going to carry on having my flaws and seeing other people get hurt by it. I’m still trying to overcome it as much as I can but at the same time remind myself that God has made me like this and I shouldn’t beat myself up too much about it.

And that is where I try and draw some lessons from to guide me with Raiyan too. Of course I can never be too sure what is an autistic trait and what is really his personality. But so far, with whatever aspects of him that the therapy has worked on, all that matters for me to see is that I have never, in all his life, seen him happier than he is now. At least that much I’m sure of.


Casdok said...

His progress sounds wonderful! You must be so proud :)

Anonymous said...

You have done a wonderful job balancing your son's true self and his autism, ahthough it's intertwined! You are spot on! His newly found adaptability will help him so much in his future. Look how far he has come! Be proud!

Pweshes Mama said...

Thanks Jenny! Raiyan has come a long way this year and we are so so proud of him! :D

Pweshes Mama said...

Thanks Lisa for your encouraging words. I always hope I'm getting the balance right and so far so good thankfully :D Thanks again!

PURPOSE:Hoping for more understanding and less judgment from all.

 To show the importances of early intervention and an evidence based treatment to help reach the full potential of the child.

 Offering other parents hope to have faith in the positive progress of their child.

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