I met up with a friend who always says, "I don't know. She just seems so normal." She says this during the 1-2 hours we hang out, a couple of times per YEAR. Today she said the same stuff, on cue. She asked, "So does she still have that....you know? Has she grown out of it yet?" I wanted to say, "No, and I'm sure glad she hasn't because if it's not autism then we've got some other kind of serious mental illness going on here--and I'm much rather have autism!"
But I'm getting better at handling it, without feeling frustrated or defensive. This friend is also really hard to communicate with due to her adhd that makes her unable to hear more than one sentence at a time before interrupting or wandering away, literally. Hard to sum up the complexities of it all in one sentence! Today I discovered a new tactic to get her to listen longer: just use an example and tell it like a story. So I told her the story of last week when the substitute principal walked LS out to me after school holding her hand, and told me of the day's events that involved LS having a misunderstanding with another student then having a meltdown when the student told on her, then spending the rest of the afternoon in the principal's office. Then finding out that LS's teacher had gone home sick in the middle of the day, and the sub principal was helping out in LS's class. So when LS had the misunderstanding with the other student, there was no one there who knows her to help her problem solve. She relies on adults to help her problem solve troubles with her peers. So with no one there, she went into a full fit. That seemed to hold my friend's attention and satisfy her doubts, for this visit anyway.
But if we had visited longer, or if I could have kept her attention longer, I would have added that the meltdown that day was a rare event since we are going longer and longer in between meltdowns, and I credit this to LS learning coping tools and self control, as well as the staff learning how to help her. Another change is that I am now understanding more about the triggers and what LS needs--in this case her need was a trained adult to help her problem solve. And now I see how that important that is for her overall.
So I guess I'd say to my friend that, no, LS is not growing OUT of anything, but that WE are growing INTO it. Yes, we are growing into our autism.