Things I Love About My Son's Autism
What I need to remind myself when I get the sad/worried/angry/frustrated/pity looks while we're out and about.
- •Every smile is a victory.They don't come often or stay long but they can still light up the room. Each one causes crazy adoration for whatever/whomever produced it.
- •Atypical talentsMy boy can memorize a tune the first time, every time. He will happily DJ if you don't mind listening to just the guitar solos of his fav songs. Today he learned the entire alphabet, in just one day (not bad for a kid who wasn't speaking as of last week!) He's mastered every machine and appliance in the house and most days makes my espresso and vacuums the floor. At 2 he's figuring out the piano and I can't wait until he's big enough to hold a guitar. As his sister says, he speaks music.
- •All of the verbal surprisesHe's taking everything in, but I don't always know until it comes out in some way, usually when I least expect it. Like when I very accidentally dropped an f-bomb in traffic and he repeated it perfectly despite not talking at all that week. Or how he said Dada for the first time to the man loading our groceries into the car. Or the day his diagnosis was confirmed and I was sobbing to his speech therapist and he laughed so loud and said Mama like it was no big deal after 2.5 years of waiting.
- •It sifts people's hearts (so I don't have to).One tricky thing about Autism is it causes behaviors that can be a bit jarring if you're not familiar with them. He yells a lot. He won't look you in the eye or smile right away. So people react in their own ways, some in annoyance or disgust, some are dismissive or aloof and some reach out and offer more than they are given without expectation of an immediate return. They offer love that covers over all the deficits in him as a child and me as a parent. Those are my people. My forever people.
- •It's not cancerBasic I know, but it's the straight-up truth. Whenever this gets heavy (and it does) I think about the mamas that are coaching their sweet babies through chemo, like two of my friends have done this year. Or I think about my aunt who lost her battle at 16 and what my grandparents had to do. Autism is hard but there is always harder and comparatively we've got nothing to compare. We are good.
- •It's led us to some amazing peopleWhen something is wrong with your kid, it's like the HARDEST trying to get them the help they need. Thankfully we have found some gems. I couldn't be more thankful for the men and women who have used their time and talents in service to my kiddo and others like him. God bless the speech therapists, occupational therapists, special educators, family service coordinators and anyone who has ever funded programs and research for kids. These folks have been my lifelines.
- •It keeps me living in the nowNo time to dwell on yesterday and the future is just either to scary or unknown to even bother with. The nature of this demands that I muster each day's full amount of courage, creativity and focus, to stretch myself further than I thought possible and convince him to do the same. It's too hard to times that out by any length other than just for today. And I wonder how I lived any other way.
- •It is (and probably always will be) a part of himChallenge or blessing, it is his and he is mine and I wouldn't have it any other way.