Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Autism Diaries XLVI: Aligning self-interest

There are two things that have made J much easier over the years than the tantrumming, eloping, non-stop mischief-making child he once was. One is the ever greater impulse control that has come, mercifully, with his maturing brain. The other is that his self-interest is increasingly aligned with ours. At long last, he's realized that the adults around him have his best interests at heart. At long last, he sees that it pays off to behave well and do his homework.

Like many teenage boys, he still resists bucking down and getting things done, particularly in subjects he doesn't like. Even in preferred subjects like math and chemistry, he can be overconfident and decide not to study, or fail to read (or understand) the directions. And when he performs poorly, he prefers to throw out his work and pretend that nothing happened rather than to let us know and seek help.

But lately I've been seeing things I never thought I'd see. For example, J, after just one request from me, going to his backpack, getting out what he needs, sitting down at the dining room table, and completing an assignment--on his own. Or this in-class assignment for English class that he appears also to have completed independently:

The things that get people to change is when they learn something new, new things get invented, or when there are new things happening. For example, when the printing press was invented, people don't have to keep writing the book over and over again.
When the train was invented, people get from one place to another faster. Because horses don't go fast enough, and sometimes need some rest. And when the airplane was invented, people can just go from 1 country to another in hours.
When I move from 1 house to another, I started going somewhere near my house instead of my old house, and started going to a closer store. And I started going to the park near my house.
I used to climb on the chair to change the speeds or fix a wrong direction of ceiling fans in houses. But when I started growing taller, I don't have to stand on chairs nearly as much to change the speeds or fix a wrong direction.
When I learned about the wii, and first play wii in someone else's house, I started making money to try to get a wii. I still don't have enough money to buy a wii, and I really want to buy a wii. I need $200 dollars now.
I discovered this assignment at the bottom of his backpack, all crumpled up. He got a 75 on it and probably intended to throw it away. I'm glad he didn't. Though I'm not sure what the prompt was, this is one of the most extended, sincere "reflections" J's ever written. Mixed in, of course, are some falsehoods--but only a couple of them this time.

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