Okay, while this post isn’t about the whole “autism” thing, I came across an interesting article and thought this quote really stands out for us:
“Normal giftedness can be easily confused with a diagnosable mental disorder. Gifted kids may talk a lot, have high levels of energy, and be impulsive or inattentive or distractible in some settings — similar to symptoms of ADHD. It’s not unusual for gifted kids to struggle socially, have meltdowns over minor issues, or have unusual all-consuming interests — all pointing to an inappropriate diagnosis of autism.
What results is that the gifted frequently feel alone and alien in a world that doesn’t fully understand them.” “The Misunderstood Face of Giftedness”
All of that describes E. Is it any wonder I have to fight so hard?
But on to the post I planned. Every night, E and I watch these videos about the Periodic Table. When the metal or element is safe enough to use in an experiment, they do. He eats these things up and could probably watch all of them in one sitting. We watch one a night. Last night, we watched Beryllium, which is apparently the lightest metal out there. At one point, E said, “That’s the first time I’ve seen a girl in one of these videos.” He’s really into the whole girl/boy thing right now. I paused our video and asked if he could think of why that is. No. He couldn’t. I explained the sciences are predominately male and there is a stereotype about women in the sciences. I explained that women often choose other paths because sciences are not encouraged and they may be ridiculed a lot in the field. He absorbed that for a few seconds before sitting up with a scrunched up face and saying, “That’s not fair! We’re all equal!”
I was proud. Equality means something to him right now. Whether it be humans, animals or even the trees, he’s very concerned with the rights of each and is ready to go to battle for what he believes in.
We continued our video, but it was hard. He kept coming back to equality in the sciences between males and females. He was upset about the disparity and was trying to come up with ways to resolve the issue. I don’t always know how to handle these things, but I do my best. I asked him if he has any girls in his science class. He has one. He doesn’t talk to her, but he’s always nice and has never been mean to her. AND. He’s decided that if he sees anyone being mean, he’s going to tell them about it.
We continued our bedtime routine by reading a short, watered-down history of Marie Curie. It’s meant for kids, so I expected it to gloss over her career. The thing that stood out to him was that she graduated at the top of her class when she was 15, but she couldn’t go to college to continue learning about math and science because…she was a woman and they were not allowed to go. Again, he was bothered.
Over the past several months, I have seen E become very concerned with justice and equality. He understands the rules and expects adults to follow them as well. When they don’t, he states it and asks, “How do you expect me to follow the rules if you don’t even follow them?”
He has also become very concerned and sensitive to how people react to him. If he feels a reaction is undeserved, it will result in him hiding under the blankets, refusing to come out. I see him trying very hard to do “good” things. I am enjoying this phase and the conversations we have. I am enjoying the glimpses he’s giving me into the kind of man he may become. And I am trying to be more mindful about the discussions we have in front of him. After all, when I asked where he picked up the word “distressed,” he said, “From you. Remember, Mom, I hear everything you say even when you don’t think I’m listening. You used it the other day.”
I have no idea what conversation that went along with….