Sunday, May 29, 2011

Nice to meetcha

Conor April 2011, 12 years old

It occurs to me that you might be interested in meeting the young man I’m always complaining writing about.  After all, it’s always nice to have a picture in your mind of a character in someone’s novel slash memoir. 

When I read George Orwell’s 1984 in high school, I thought the main character was really overweight because he had trouble touching his toes.  I couldn’t have been farther from the truth.  I think he just didn’t do enough yoga.

(Great, now I’m going to have to go re-read the novel because I can’t remember if he really couldn’t touch his toes or if I just didn’t pay attention. Mrs. Maurer would be soooo disappointed.)

Of course, Conor is currently overweight, but it’s because of his medication. See The Battle of the Bulge.

 Until Risperidone (an anti-psychotic), Conor was a skinny little thing but with a distended belly, not unlike some other children with autism.

If you met Conor in person, and you caught his fancy, he would point at you with his index finger and singsong, “What’s your name right there?”

Today, Conor is a 12 year old pre-teen (I am NOT old enough to have a twelve year old) with big blue eyes, a round freckly face, hair with just a hint of red, ears like Will Smith, an Autism Spectrum Disorder, Tourette Syndrome, and a burgeoning mood disorder.  Lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

Conor loves technology, as most individuals with autism do.  He’s a whiz at the Wii, a master at the iPhone, purveyor of iTunes (music + computers = love2), and wizard on the computer.  He’s not programming yet, but he certainly doesn’t need any help navigating his way around the World Wide Web.

He loves music; he has since he was little. Fortunately for us, he has good taste, generally, and only rarely hooks into the tween scene.  Party in the U.S.A., baby, I know every word.  

John Mayer, Maroon 5, and Michael Jackson have been perennial favorites, but Black Dub, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow and Coldplay have all made strong showings, as have others.  He doesn’t discriminate against country music, but jazz and classical music have never held much draw for him.  He occasionally listens to the blues. But don’t we all sing the blues at one point in our life?

He’s no savant, though, don’t buy into that Rain Man.  He can’t play a note, but loves to listen to music at full volume, preferably injected directly into his eardrum. Seriously, he will put the iTouch at full volume, hold the speaker up to his ear, and blast away.  Try it sometime, you won’t be able to stand the pain.

He played his music so loud in his home school, his teacher got him a t-shirt for his birthday that said “If it’s too loud, you’re too old.” It was his favorite shirt for three years straight.

He enjoys anything that goes fast.  Roller coasters are a favorite, but so is ice skating and riding in my Dad’s boat, and I bet if  when we ever get him on skis, he would bomb down the slopes like Bode Miller.

Cooking and gardening are favorite activities of my guy.  I used to describe him as my Renaissance Man, especially when he’d make me espressos like a little barista.

Recently, Conor’s really gotten into dogs.  This is terribly fascinating (only for me, of course) because for years he was terrified, absolutely terrified, of dogs.  Barking would drive him mad, with tears and shaking and screaming. 

Today, if he met you walking your dog, he’d point at you and yell “What’s that dog’s name?”.  (Right before he’d point with his index finger and singsong, “What’s your name right there?”.)

Swimming remains a favorite activity.  He mainly swims under the water, with a huge scuba mask on.  I think he finds relief from the world in the quiet of the water.

Ultimately, though, Conor loves math.  He loves numbers.  He loves the shape of them, the sound of them, what you can do with them.  He has untold numbers of calculators.  He plays math computer games for fun. He completes math worksheets to calm his anxiety. 

Don’t get your hopes up, he’s not going to Las Vegas anytime soon.  He just has this fascination for numbers, we like to call it “Conorology”.

But, despite all the wonderful qualities my son has, Conor has always been a difficult child.  At least since he regressed. Maybe he would have given us a run for our money without even regressing into autism, but we’ll never know. But you can read all about travails in, well, in most of my posts, but here's one that will tell you how bad it's gotten... Oh pick me, pick me!

So there you have it.  The C-Man. The Con-Man.  The Conorator.  I think I’ll start calling him “Con-undrum” because he certainly is a puzzle to me.

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