They live in a different world. A world of obsessive personal hygiene (not complaining), Snapchat fixations and grunted replies. They don’t even say ‘Ok’ anymore! All you get is ‘k’. They’ve taken monosyllabic to a whole new level!
That’s my oldest two anyway. The fact they’re both ASD lets them get away with a lot. Autistic kids aren’t big at conversation. They’ll sit for an hour and give you a stream of information on what they’re doing, who did what and why. But don’t interrupt! The deal is, they talk and you listen. Unless they’re asking questions. That’s my son’s big thing. Random and unpredictable, could be anything that crosses his mind.
Recently, he’s been baffled by the increase in gender types. So he has a question session on that subject, and in ways that only an ASD kid can manage, he interweaves a completely separate question stream on the intricacies of the Syrian war. He wants comprehensive answers. First a question on what ‘I identify as male’ means, followed by whether ISIS is being fought or funded by the USA. He hops from subject to subject with no difficulty, just like a little mountain goat.
That’s what passes for a teenage convo with my eldest two. You get practised at extracting the info you need. Direct questions often result in confusion and shouting (them, not me), so I take the other route for a quiet life.
My twelve year old is the same only different. She’s not ASD, but perhaps living with two ASD siblings has coloured how she communicates. She says little, likes irony and splits her time between friends, social media and baking cupcakes.
I’m not sure her heart is in the sponge any more, though. Just not the same effort, but there’s only so many cupcakes you can bake before you have to branch out into different baking territory. She shows no sign of that, but she has incorporated watching her iPad into her baking routine. Not working well for her, I’d say.
So I’m back to my original question – does it matter that I don’t have a proper convo with my children?
Well, kind of, yes, if you’re the type of person who likes long, rambling conversation, as I am. My husband too. We seem to need it, like most people. You connect when you have a really good conversation. But I have to admit, did I want that when I was a kid? Talking to my mum? Did I want to connect with her over a big long conversation? I think I know the answer to that!
Ultimately, it’s all about their needs at this age. They’re doing what they need to do, they’re happy and they’re finding their way in life. Being nurturing and available to them is what matters most right now. I can give them a hard time on the finer points of conversation, some other time. Now there’s something to look forward to!