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Monday, September 5, 2011

Will You Be My Friend?

About a year ago, I wrote a post entitled "I Live with Dory"  about the shortcomings of Finbar's short term memory and the ensuing insanity it drives me to.  Back then, I was living the life of Marlin from Finding Nemo, on his epic voyage with Dory who could remember nothing from minute to minute.  And I would tell myself to just keep swimming.  Over the last year, Finbar's short term memory lapses receded quite a bit, no doubt because of the Brain Integration Therapy he has been receiving.  Nevertheless, with all this improvement, I recently had a brief  "Dory" experience with him and it uncovered a long time nagging question of mine.  Why do children with autism have such poor short term memories?  In that Dory post, I also alluded to the fact that research has shown that there may be a link between Autism and Alzheimers - scary thought I know, to look at your 6 yr old as a mini-Alzheimer's patient. But that is how it feels sometimes.

Case in point (after a BBQ at our home with friends last night):

F:  (excitedly) "Hey Mom, Hey Mom?"
Me:  "Yes Finney?" 
F:  "Um, can we invite THAT girl over for a playdate tomorrow?"
Me:  "WHAT girl Finney?

I glance at Reese tromping down the steps from the upper patio in our yard where we had been eating, on her way out to go home, figuring he is referring to her. Knowing that he has been playing with this girl all evening and the evening before, and therfore should know her name, I endeavor as always to drive home a point.

Me:   (somewhat annoyingly) "You mean the girl in the yellow shirt?" Still not giving it away.
F:    "Yes, yes, THAT girl!  Can we have HER over for a playdate? Can we? I want her to be my friend."
Me:    "You mean REESE?", I say in a kind of "duh" reply, trying to make him realise that knowing people's names, particularly people that you have been hanging out with for four hours, is EXPECTED.  I instantaneously imagine him at a job interview when he is 25 having forgotten which job he is applying for and for what company, brush that nightmare thought aside, and momentarily take note that he chronically does not seem to care about learning a person's name.  Or, is it rather that his memory does not allow him to remember? Ah, the million dollar question.   Many people have the oft bad habit of  "being horrible with names" (yours truly included).  Which is it? Blatant social carelessness on his part? Or some brain malfunction?   Or, as many have dubbed autism to be - Alzheimers for kids?   I may never know, so I move on to the positive - OMG he is asking for a playdate with a new friend! OMG, OMG, OMG. 

Me:  "Well, yes! Why don't you go ask her if she'd like to come over sometime or ask her mom if it's OK?" (and please don't blow it)
F:  "But what if she doesn't want to be my friend?" 
Me:  (at a loss for an answer to that) "Well, go ask her to be your friend and invite her over (oooh could be awkward).  Hurry before she leaves!" (God, please let her want to be his friend)  

I lose track of him for a few minutes and then see him with Reese, who hasn't left yet.

Me:  "Hey Finbar, didn't you want to ask Reese something? Hey Reese, Finbar wanted to..."
F:  "I ALREADY DID mom and I asked her if she would be my friend (ooooh awkward) and she said yes and that she wanted to come over for a playdate..."
Me:  (cutting him off)  "Great! Reese, do you want to..."
Reese's mom:  "Hey Finbar, do you think that you would like to come over to OUR house one day to play?"
Me: (OMG, he is being invited by another mom for a playdate - A first!)
Finbar:  (doublechecking)  "Reese, you are my friend now, right?"
Reese: (shrugs her shoulders without glancing back at him)  "Uh, yeah, I guess so." (She runs off)

This Dory thing is socially awkward but who cares it is working out! We are on our way to P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney :)


suzie q said...

love it

suzie q said...

Love it..

Rebecca Royce said...

Great story!! So glad he got invited over.

From my own situation, my son (oldest) cannot remember anyone's names. Ever. I drilled him in the car once about the son of some friends of ours who were coming for the weekend. He's met the every year - at least once--since he was 1. He cannot remember. He could not remember it with the drilling. With me having him say it over and over and over again. He could not get it right with the child in the house. I was terrified. And then the kid looked at him and got his name wrong. According to his mother, he NEVER gets anyones name correct.

I think its some kids. I really do. And for the record, my father and mother used to go out to dinner, occasionally, with our neighbors when we were growing up. My Dad ran into him and had no idea who he was.

It might also just be men.

finbarsmom said...

yes it might just be MEN becca cuz Bill never remembers people I talk about. thanks for the encouraging words and if Jon Berg is like Dory then I feel better LOL!

Emily Foley said...

The disparity between Fin's short term and long term memory is so interesting to me!! How is it that he is able to remember the smallest and sometimes seemingly insignificant details of an event that happened months or even years ago and not remember something that just happened?
Thanks again for sharing such fun stories about Fin! I can always picture him saying or doing exactly what you are describing in the story and it gives me a good laugh. Sometimes I think we should start writing down his "one liners" and make them into a book to sell! I think it would do quite well!!/mary.kellygodley said...

Hi, just started following your blog. Have Asperger's myself and an autistic son. For me personally I have done exactly what your son did i.e. sat talking to someone for a considerable length of time without having any idea what their name is.

Why? You might ask. It's because this person knows my name and assumes that I know theirs too. But as you say I can't remember this persons name and I am just too embarrassed to ask because it is assumed I must know already? Also I often see poeple and think 'yeah I know her but what is her name again?'

The other problem here with the autistic brain is that I don't have a natural curiosity for knowing everything about everyone in my neighbourhood. I often get asked questions like,'you know Susan Cahill?'

When I shake my head or say no, the reply is usually 'ah you do. You must know her?'

Then on it goes until I find myself nodding and saying, 'oh yes I do?' Just to get out of the conversation asap.

That's just the way it is, there is a known link also between kids who have autism because of Fragile X and a condition they are prone to developing when they get older. It does actually have very similar symptoms to Alzheimers so there can often be an element of brain function issues to the memory lapses too. We are all still just learning.