My reexamination of life in context may seem like I'm looking for a pass for, well, whatever about it that was uncomfortable. I'd like to think that I'm self-aware enough to know that not everything in life that was negative can be attributed to autism or ADHD. Indeed, mistakes were made. Sometimes suboptimal things are related strictly to our choices.
One of the earliest mistakes that I can think of is from my junior year of high school. In the third quarter of my English class, I remember the teacher calling us up individually to find out what our grades were. I knew I wasn't really very engaged, but I was pretty surprised when I had an F. My teacher, one of the best that I had, looked me in the eye and said, "You didn't do anything, what were you expecting?" I made some pretty bad choices about doing the school work. How do I know they were choices? Because I got an A the next quarter.
This is a popular topic of discussion at our house right now, because I have a 13-year-old. Fortunately, he knows about his autism and ADHD, and as parents, we've made sure that it's understood in school. He has certain accommodations that are made that I never had because there was even less understanding about the different ways that kids learn back then. However, there's a balance to be found between accommodation and accountability. As far as Simon is concerned, that's totally out of balance. It's a source of struggle for everything from homework to chores.
It's kind of interesting to me, that here I am working backward toward understanding which things in life were mistakes, not having any knowledge at the time of how my brain might not be typical. Meanwhile, with Simon we often start from the place of suspecting the atypical brain is the cause for challenge, instead of choices. And there's the challenge of accommodation versus accountability.
What's different is that I can't change the past. I can learn from my mistakes though, and at the same time I can identify situations that were challenging for reasons other than my choices. The difficulty in college to sit down for an hour to concentrate and write a paper was not a choice. But to not do it at all, that was a choice.
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