In fact, when it comes to grasping some of the more complex issues related to Prader Willi Syndrome, I think I've done alright. I understand the role of the hypothalamus and its effect on my youngest son's appetite. I can describe, in excruciating detail, the genetic malfunction that occurs on the 15th chromosome to cause this rare disease.
Why is it then that I have such trouble understanding my eldest son?
When it comes to Weston, I am lost.......but good.
I admit it,
I am not always adept at decoding behaviors associated with autism, Asperger's or ADHD. It is as if he speaks a different language.
I believe Weston is describing me correctly when he refers to me as his clueless mother. I struggle to catch on.
There are things I DO understand about Weston. He is kind, curious, observant and quick. He is NOT quiet.
To say that Weston likes to talk is perhaps an understatement. Comments, questions, thoughts and ideas, spill continuously from his mouth. Like machine gun fire spraying a wall, fleeting thoughts spring immediately to life on the lips of my loquacious lad.
If he thinks it, he will say it.
Unrepressed self expression is indeed his fervent forte.
So why is it then, that he is deathly afraid of speaking on the telephone?
"Nooooooooo...! Mom don't make me do it!" he screams as I hand him the telephone.
Horror stricken, he places his hands over his mouth and back peddles away from me. To him, it is if I have suddenly transformed into the gruesome Freddie Krueger, snarling and slashing at him with my metal claw and equally-chilling evil speaking device.
image by Micro Chen
"But Weston," I plead. "It's grandpa on the phone. You haven't spoken with him for a long time. He misses you and would like to speak with you for just a minute, "
I gently extend the phone toward my timid teen.
"No, Mom, I can't!" he cries and races from the room.
What on earth did I do to provoke such a frightened response, I wonder?
I am perplexed and explain to the bewildered grandpa that Weston is still not ready to speak on the telephone.
I have had many long, gentle discussions with my terrified teen in an effort to understand the exact cause of his telephone anxiety. His answer is always the same.
"I don't know Mom, I just do."
This from the child who entered the world with an innate understanding of electronic devices and Gameboy gadgetry. Cleverly conquering the controls of his favorite video pastime equipment. I incorrectly assumed that smartphone technology would hold a similar allure to my tech savvy teen.
Alas I was wrong. And so as a family we are working together to help Weston to overcome this fear.
He is taking some small steps that he doesn't seem to mind, like using the phone when it is time to order pizza from our local take-out place. He is calling 411 when we need a telephone number. He is answering the phone when telemarketers ring, kindly reminding them to remove our number from their list.
All of these activities used to help nurture his confidence.
He is slowly building his endurance and creating his own unique telephone persona.
He is discovering who he is.
He is facing his fear.
He has helped me to realize that I may never understand what motivates or inhibits others. Perhaps it is best for me simply to accept folks as they are, to embrace quirkiness and acknowledge I do not always need to understand.