Well, I learned (or was reminded of) another important lesson this week. NT and "easy" kids need too. Some, I think, would describe their needs as "easier," and some would describe the needs of ASD kids as "harder."
This whole easy/hard business frankly irritates me. At its core, it is very clearly an issue of judgment or a lack of empathy or a shade of envy.
Your hard may be someone else's easy. Someone else's hard may be your easy. Circumstances are what they are. Circumstances, in and of themselves, are neither hard nor easy. It is the response of one person to her circumstances, the resources she has to confront them, and the multiplicity of circumstances working in her life at one time that render something hard or easy for her, I think. And, the very same circumstances can, for her, be easy one day or moment and hard the next. There is no definable or articulable category of hard or of easy. They are fluid and subjective, comprised of an infinitum list of variables.
As such, I think it's extremely dangerous to make comparisons. A comparison means that I look at my variables and someone else's and try to weigh them out against each other without the benefit of actual knowledge of the variables on one side of the "v." While I can (theoretically) be very accurate in assessing my own variables, I can never truly know with what variables the person on the other side of the "v." is working. So, in actuality, I am making assumptions about her variables, maybe giving her the benefit of the doubt or maybe not. As such, any assessment that I may make is flawed because it is not based in reality on one side of that "v." Comparisons breed anxiety and contempt and self-doubt. None of that is helpful around here.
That being said, I can tell you some things I'm learning while raising a child with ASD and a few NT ones.
The kids who are perceived as "easy," those that go with the flow and, thus, make life easier, have very real moments of need. Need that can't be ignored just because that need is easy. Need that can't be put off just because that easy kid can wait. Everyone is needy on some level; there is only so long that someone can go, regardless of temperament, without having needs met. Finding time for that in a multitude of neediness is my hard.
The kid who is perceived by the outside world as being "hard" is actually the easiest of them all at times. It's literal and logical and cut-and-dry. It's quick. Little emotion is involved. Grey area is eradicated. If there's concern about the appropriate course, there are doctors to ask. Those doctors will respond with a "yes, that's right" or a "no, try this." You always know where you stand, with the docs and with that "hard" kid. It's definable and ratable and collectible and objective. There aren't a whole lot of "what ifs?" That is my super easy.
When someone is NT and has a strong temperament or inclination to please others, it is both very easy and very hard at the same time. Easy in that there's not a lot of external work that needs to be done to garner compliance. A "good job" or "the look" will usually keep the course steady. But, not everyone can please all of the time, especially a child who is growing and learning how to be an individual. At some point, that person who has always wanted to please learns that not pleasing may have benefits, too. When emotion is involved, logic can be harder to find. What to do about that is my hard.
All kids are different. Of course, NT ones are different than ASD ones. But NT ones differ from one another, too. And, ASD ones differ along the spectrum. People are people, after all. An ASD one can be super definable. Because the neurological wiring that underlies the disorder is locked up in social traits or responses, the social traits or responses one can expect from an ASD kid are predictable. There is a lot less predictability with NT kids. Trying to figure out who these people are, issues of wiring aside, and anticipate their needs is my hard.
All kids need love, Herculean amounts of it. That love needs to be unconditional and full and honest. It also has to include boundaries and limits. Trying to impose boundaries in boundless love can feel counterintuitive. But, boundaries can be reset and adjusted and moved as needed. The love part in the equation never has to be checked or reigned or reeled in. That is my super easy.