Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

When my brother was younger, he ignored people. This was before he had an official diagnosis so people, mainly my father, just thought he was being a brat. J would sit in the middle of a room and we would call him for dinner or tell him play time was over and he'd act as if he never heard us. When we finally did catch his attention, it was always met with "What?" It wasn't until we saw the blood dripping down his ears one day and asked if he was hurt, the "what" revealed something else.

When some people talk, the listening party might be able to understand what the speaker is saying right away. A trait of autism is a delay in auditory processing. So it's not like they didn't hear you, they might still be working on how to respond or figuring out what to do with the information you said to them. Odds are, they are not ignoring you on purpose to drive you mad. That's a waste of our time.

There's a book my mother read when I was a child. It was called "The Cat Who Wore a Pot on Her Head" by  Jan Slepian and Ann Seidler. The story was about a little cat who wore a pot on her head because she liked the way it looked. The problem with this is she could not hear things correctly. So other animals would talk to her and she wasn't able to understand what they were trying to communicate to her.
Illustration by Richard M Martin
As mentioned yesterday, our sense of hearing can be either a strength or a weakness. For some of us, myself included, we can hear conversations across crowded rooms. Other times, we don't understand if someone is talking to us from two feet away because we are so focused on something we are working on. However, it is very important to address any biological reasons for a behavior. It turns out my brother with a history of ear infections was also physically unable to hear us until he had a tube put in to correct the issue. Once he fully healed and the problem remained, then we knew there was something else going on with him. Now when he doesn't listen to us, he's just being a 19 year old boy.

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