Thursday, January 21, 2010

my way

You know that song, "My Way," by Frank Sinatra? I hate that song. Not just because it's schmaltzy. But because it presents doing things "my way" as some sort of renegade thing that makes you truly human. Because I have an autistic five-year-old who struggles the moment anything doesn't go his way, I'm a little sensitive about popular wisdom that trumpets the self at the cost of other relationships.

Like so many kids, Martin wants things to go his way. In that way, he is not unusual at all. But when he's faced with something that gets in his way, he has fewer resources for dealing with it. Sometimes, he doesn't understand that his way isn't going to happen. Other times, he can't express his feelings about not getting his way. And still other times, he can express how he feels, but only in socially inappropriate ways. Maybe it would help if he could sing Sinatra? At least itcould help him channel his feelings?

My husband and I are constantly working on Martin's unwillingness to try other ways. It has hindered him in all of his school experiences until his current one. It's the reason he still attends a Sunday School class for preschoolers rather than the class for kindergarteners and first graders. It's why we tell babysitters to let him do what he wants to do, rather than leave them with a kid who might kick at them and scream.

I could handle all of those adjustments if I was not afraid that Martin's fundamental ability to relate to others is at stake. If you do things your way, where is all the wonder that comes at discovering something that someone else introduces to you? Where is all the joy (and terror) of risk because someone else asked you to do something you never imagined? Unlike Sinatra, I would regret it if Martin never knows what that experience is like.

1 comment:

  1. Just found your blog and I am really enjoying it! Martin is adorable. So far, he reminds me of my son when he was that age (he's 8 now).