Monday, September 14, 2015

How old is he?

Simplest question in the world for a parent! At first we count in months, than years but with quarters and halves. And eventually just years. Often we marvel at how fast time flies and wish they would stop growing up altogether.

For me however, as Cédric progresses in age and grows in size, this question is getting harder to answer, or at least harder for me. I struggle with the intent of the question, with how to answer it, and with which degree of detail I want to go into.

There tends to be sort of three scenarios:

- the person asking sees him or somehow already knows about his delays and autism, so that's easy, all they want to know is his chronological age.

- the person sees him and can tell he's big, but can also tell there might be something different about him. Here I wonder if they just want to know his age, if they are trying to determine whether he's just really big for his age which would explain his behaviour, or if there is something different going on and trying to ask what without being rude. Sometimes I give his age and let them conclude what they want, sometimes I tell them his age but specify he's on the spectrum. Sometimes I don't mind the subtext to the question, sometimes it annoys me...

- and the last might be the most taxing and hard for me. I start talking to people I don't know without Cédric being present and the conversation goes to kids. The question of age comes up and when I say his chronological age, people tend to comment on how fun that age is, all the things they can do at that age, the new developments and possibilities. And I have a choice to make. Do I nod along and move on to another topic or even another person to talk to? Or do I explain? This scenario is hard for two reasons. First it is sad almost every time to be reminded of all the things other kids his age do, like, learn, etc. that he doesn't. And second, it might be a quick note to the conversation but quite often it turns into a whole long conversation about autism and sometimes I don't feel like going into all the details, focusing my thoughts on all of that again. But I also feel that it helps awareness, so I feel somewhat compelled to share.

And if you're wondering what the answer to the question is, Cédric is 7 years old chronologically, but functions at around 1 to 2 years old developmentally according to the latest assessment, although it's not uniform. He might do some things like a 1 year old and others more like a 3 year old would.So as you see, simple question but complicated answer!

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