Saturday, April 9, 2011

Autism Bacon Humor

This morning, Justin was going through the paper and came across this Denny's insert for "Baconalia! A Celebration of Bacon."  There are three coupons and America's Diner is celebrating bacon this week with a triple bacon sampler, BBBLT sandwich (no that is not a typo), bacon meatloaf, and four other "new sizzling bacon dishes."  It's a bacchanalia of bacon and we couldn't resist the inevitable bacon jokes.  After all, we are bacon lovers and have breakfast for dinner, with real fried bacon, at least once a week.  Joey was sitting at the table and decided to chime in while giggling, obviously very amused with himself.  Autism bacon humor has been born:

Question:  What did one boy have to write about?

Answer:  Bacon sandwiches.

Joey wants to join in with our laughing and joking around, but he just doesn't quite get "it" and while we are amused when he makes up his own jokes and think they are downright sweet, they obviously are not going to make the latest "Big Book of Jokes" (assuming there is such a thing).

That being said, if you think about it, that joke is pretty funny.  It's got a punch line; you just have to understand the context.  And he was happy just to be a part of our joking around, which to me is such huge progress.  He wants to be part of the group.  Five years ago, he didn't realize there was a group.  Autism is now being diagnosed in 1 in every 70 boys and 1 in every 110 children.  It's 4 to 1, boys to girls.

Justin sent me an article yesterday (Preparing Your Autistic Child for the Workforce) about what people should or can be doing to prepare their autistic child for the transition from "autistic child" to "autistic adult functioning in society."  This is something I don't even want to think about.  Joey is only twelve.  He's on the A/B honor roll at his middle school, for God's sake.  My boy is going to college.  He will not be stuffing envelopes or stocking shelves.  Fortunately, he is one of the luckier children with autism who is "high functioning" and able to interact with the world and people around him.  What are we doing as a society to prepare ourselves for this overwhelming entrance of our children with autism to the employment world?  Not much.  Who will help the ones who are not able to function as well?  I don't know.

There is a paucity of social programs and funding to find a place for our children who are starting to age out of the No Child Left Behind Act and go out into the "real world."  This is a travesty and the parents of children with autism are beginning to panic as they realize they will need to figure out what their children will do and where they will go every day, whether they can hold a job or will need care of some sort.  Parents are not prepared and neither is society.  We need more awareness and more funding.  I'm not sure how to get either one, but I am slowly becoming aware that Joey's endearing quirkiness might be a problem in a job interview.  It is starting to dawn on me that I will need to prepare my son to deal with other people's intolerance of those who are "different" and how to "fit in" enough to hold down a job or even have a career.  I don't like it that I will have to do this, but I am a realist.  I just had my own experience with an employer who couldn't look past my own anxiety issues enough to see that I was really a good employee who was willing to do pretty much any task he asked of me.  How is my son with autism going to fare in this world?

I have a few more years to think about this and hopefully Joey's innate intelligence and basic "likability" is going to carry him, the same way that John Nash became a brilliant mathematician, despite of (or possibly because of) his schizophrenia.  The world has a hard time with different.  I've been there myself and not that long ago.  I can only hope that Joey finds his niche among people who appreciate that the boy had to write about bacon sandwiches.

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