Autism: an Observation

He's a happy kid.

My son Marcus is turning 5 the day after Valentine’s day, and was diagnosed as autistic a few months ago, in late 2010.

That diagnosis isn’t something he’s noticed, but it helps me  focus my attention onto behaviours that otherwise might have slipped notice.

Autistic kids have difficulty with social interaction, being generally more literally minded. This manifests itself in different ways, but many of the common clues, such as avoiding eye contact or a broad lack of empathy, have never really been an issue with Marcus. It was really only recently that I noticed how it manifested itself in my son, outside of a general preference to play by himself instead of with others: I noticed he often fakes his way through social interaction, by applying rote templates that he’s picked up contextually, which are then applied to situations based on cues he registers from the people around him.

Strangers (friends of mum and dad) arrive at the front door, and he greets them excitedly with ‘Hi guys!’ but he doesn’t grasp what that means, other than how it fits in that social context: people appear, so you say ‘hello’. Dad looks like he’s packing one of two bags that he takes with him when he leaves the house? ‘Bye dad! Seeya later!’ (Everything he says has exclamation points in it, just so you know).

I’ll provide two examples after the jump. Continue reading