Susan McCorkindale

Author. Editor. Autism Advocate.
9.18.18

Different But Alike

We’ve all got something that makes us different, thank God. Can you imagine a world of cookie cutter, Stepford people? Beam me up, Scotty, ’cause I’m not sticking around for that. But we all have things in common, too. I always wish we’d look for the common ground in dealing with people. And believe me, I’m not perfect. I remind myself constantly to do just that.

For example, my eldest has autism. I have anxiety. These are just two things that make us different. There are dozens of others. He remembers everything, I haven’t held a memory in my head for more than 20 seconds in years. I think. I can’t really recall. He’s incredible with computers, and digital thingies like getting Amazon Prime linked to our TV. It’s a miracle! There’s a beam , bringing cool shows and movies – like magic – into my little house! His focus is enviable. It should be patented and sold. We’d make millions. And then there’s me. My adult ADHD has me writing this, responding to work email, and Googling “best cameras for youTube” at the same time. Is it any wonder I’m always tired and he’s so chill?

We are different. And we are alike.

The other night over dinner, completely out of nowhere, he says to me, “You know what kind of days I like the best?” I said, nope. He said, “The days where I don’t spend any money!” I was floored. The kid’s a clotheshorse.

Casey at a recent D.C. united match. Clearly he spent a bunch of bucks that day!

The folks at Amazon and Hot Topic send him birthday cards, for Pete’s sake. But you know what? That’s my favorite kind of day, too. I had no idea we had this in common. We both love Tostitos, can’t add, can quote Tropic Thunder line for line (not something to brag about, but still), and more, so much more. But this new common ground cracked me up and comforted me. He’s not going to put himself – or me! – in the poor house! Praise the Lord! 

More importantly it reminded me to see past his autism, and to push our conversations away from the countless soccer videos and Star Wars memes he wants to show me in lieu of talking. Those things are within his comfort zone but clearly, it’s expanding. I need to encourage it. Remind myself of all the common ground my kid and I share and reach for topics that pertain to them.

He is so much more than his autism. I am so much more than my anxiety. We are all so much more than we appear to be. We all need to reach for the common ground that connects us. It isn’t always easy. We may not always feel like making the effort. But when we do, it makes a world of difference. For us, for others. For the world.

 

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