The first two posts were about the kids. Now let's take a look at ASD from the old days, before it was even a thing.
This is my dad. He grew up with simplistic little kid interaction and thoughts because the ASD range was common enough around him growing up that it was normal, but remember that ASD kids sometimes super plug into acedemics later. By the time he graduated the 8th grade in a one room rural school house, he was acing tests about government structure and economics that they don't give kids today until they're in college. One of the first things I learned from him was how to count, because numbers are behind everything that goes on in the world. He doesn't know Bunny already counts to 20 (at 2 1/2) and is just watching to see why he's even acting like that. Bunny's ADHD is going full blast in her head right now, super focused on studying how to socially interact with this guy. An ASD kid would have just ignored him unless he/she were interested in actually doing something.
Bunny has got my dad figured out, and without any words at all (funny to us because she's normally a nonstop talker), spends a little time manipulating him without him even knowing it. When I first met Bunny's mama (at that age), I was nearly still as rigid as my dad in the way I saw the world and what I thought of things and how they should work. I think Bunny wanted to see how complex my dad could get because he'd been doing the same simple thing over and over trying to get her to repeat it.
On the other hand, my dad knew what to do with Batman and actually got positive response. This behavior in a 2 year old wasn't at all considered deviant or abnormal with him, this is just what 2 year olds are like and they click in later and get real smart.
One of the reasons I got a sociology degree was because I craved to know what I still didn't understand about how humans work. Group interaction and individual acceptance is a really big deal everywhere you go, especially on jobs and in families. A person who doesn't feel accepted in a group can become despondent (depressed) or despotic (bossy), both of which can have sad and bad consequences, or inspire them to leave to find another group, but not everyone is strong enough to leave a group on their own and seek a better fit.
Being different from one another wasn't acceptable when I was growing up. We all had to think the same way, behave the same way, even have fun the same way. I was unable to fit in with people everywhere I went. I found a few here or there that I could kind of be part of, but never quite fit all the way with. I think it's human nature to want to fit in as oneself, to be useful and cherished as unique. Sometimes it's difficult to find that when the world around us is very rigid about who we should be and how we should act. When the world is like that, it loses great opportunities for creative problem solving skills.
'My people', as I generically and fondly call people whose heads work like mine, are everywhere. When you travel from city to city and find comfort in familiarity in a franchise, that was probably one of my people. When you zip into a store for something and rely on super organization for easy and quick shopping, that was probably one of my people. Every time you use your phone, some of my people helped make that possible. The rest of us don't have to worry about satellites in orbit relaying signals and the obsessive number crunching that goes into maintaining the information and entertainment tech that services, thank goodness, but if you do ever wonder about it, well, that's my people.
I come from a people with a very long history. They go back to the Anglo-Saxon days like the King Arthur myths. They go back to the Goths and Frisian. When Hitler was scourging the earth, he praised the Prussian Mennonites. ('My people' in that article wound up routing through Russia, thanks to Catherine, and then on to America.) It was my good fortune to have a Mennonite college professor (author page) who remembers being 12 during the time of Hitler and questioning his father over why they supported him. That boy wound up becoming a secret envoy to China, helping bring out the historical traditions and stories to a world that still didn't know much at all about what was really going on in China. (book) He knew my family name and asked me in front of the whole class (World Religions) if I knew so and so on the Navajo reservation, and it turned out I did, I'm related to him. My people are all over the world, and some of them keep track where all the rest of us are.
When regular people think of Mennonites, they assume tight knit communities on farmland. They have no idea we are floating like cream to the tops of everything around them, in industry, medicine, education, government, even the entertainment industry. I have some profoundly astonishingly amazingly intelligent cousins, and you would be surprised what all they do.
My dad is a little more close minded. He is very suspicious of government and was convinced college would brainwash me. He wouldn't allow me to see a psychiatrist as a child because psychiatry was invented by government (think old Germany) to brainwash citizens. If you can survive talking to my dad long enough, you find out he knew everything about Illuminati as a child growing up in a wheat field long before they became a whisper and then a conspiracy theory and now a hushed reality. I won't go into that right now, but some of you have seen my dabbling in that sort of information gathering. I have a sociology degree steeped in world religions and political science, and I quietly research at home for my own amusement.
My point is that ASD isn't a scary thing. Our modern society is no longer supportive of functional ASD. In the old days, there was no time table for social and personality development, and kids developed naturally in their own time. Sooner or later, most ASD kids find their niches, and they immerse themselves in the glory of problem solving. They love complexity and patterns and winning the game. They may not be cute little dollies as tiny children, and they may not be very cooperative for awhile- remember, I started out a screamer, and I never hugged my mom or told her I loved her or went to her for comfort, and here I am coaching people with anxiety and depression on social media.
I am writing a book about BEING an ASD child, what it was like from my point of view, the things I thought, the feelings I had, and how I finally figured out how life works. It's taking awhile because I'm not closing myself off from the world and just doing it, because I'm making myself available to the public, and I'm told privately by several that this has been very encouraging.
Survival is key. Mental health wasn't a thing back in the old days, but now we know how important feeling secure and accepted in groups is nowadays. We have broken away from our natural daily survival busy-ness and problem solving to live our separate lives not really plugging in to society around us any more (it's ok, I don't trust my neighbors, either), and kids wind up with their heads in gaming consoles or getting into trubbas. Childhood depression is a real thing, and parental support is out there. My mom didn't have the support when I was growing up, and I watched it devastate her in ways other people didn't really notice, because back then admitting depression was extremely taboo and she never let people know how bad it was for her, even when she tried to communicate it. Your ASD children are like recording devices, and if you give them enough time (took me 3-4 decades), they will remember all your words and feelings and turn them around into a sweet empathy that will sweep you off your feet. Your job is to live long enough to see that happen. I've already lost my mom, she missed most of it, but she knew it was there. She never stopped believing she could find a way to push me into seeing the bigger picture, although I frustrated her all my life.
ENJOY YOUR CHILD. Just love your child. Be there and don't worry. When it all boils down, our last thoughts before death are about our relationships. Learning to love is why we are here, and ASD kids have a long and winding road learning it. I was not born with natural empathy and rarely cared about anyone for a very long time.
Because of my experiences, I very much enjoy people in my home nowadays. My home is my sanctuary, and the people who come into my home are in my sanctuary.
Yes, there is very definitely a part 4 coming. My internet has been glitchy for several days and my data plan is critically low, so loading HD vids is slow going. The best and very cutest part of the Bunny-Batman ADHD-ASD collision is yet to come.