I learned when my son was about 3 years old, that he was Autistic. I could have died. Infact I think that my heart did stop. I knew all of the signs, I was experienced on the subject. I had a hand in raising a little brother that was an Autist, after my mother left our family.
Lack of speech
No eye contact
Delayed motor skills
I could go on and on………….. Yet, when the doctor looked me in the eyes and said “I believe that your son may be Autistic, and we would like to run some additional tests” I wanted to throw up. In fact I think I may have. Sorry about the shoes doc.
It was so overwhelming, all of the information that was being thrown my way about EVERYTHING. Among all of the Do’s and Don’ts, I was getting told that there was nothing wrong with him because he didn’t look retarded. Well, there is nothing wrong with him, he is just different. His mind works differently than almost everyone elses. I knew that then and I know what now, it’s just so hard when it seems like everyone is dying for an answer. Personally I decided a long time ago when my baby brother was diagnosed, that I didn’t care why it happened, how it happened, or whose fault it was. Not every question has an answer and not every answer has a question.
I have learned through so much trial and error that what works for my child will probably not work for yours and vice versa. Each child is an individual and will learn at his or her own rate. I took so much advice from so many different people that in the beginning of our diagnosis that I wasn’t listening to my son.
A was trying to tell me so much through his body language and I was missing it all. I was missing all the looks, and struggles that he was going through just trying to ask me for a glass of milk. Being as he was my first child I felt completely at a loss. I was just married, trying to navigate having a step-daughter that was just born, trying to co-parent with my sons father whom is a less than ideal individual. Everything was just piling up and I was fighting a losing battle. Always climbing up hill. Somehow through all of the noise going on in our lives we managed to find a balance.
Fast forwarding through the years, our house has become an asylum for all manner of different animals, hobbies, Lego’s, computer games and after school activities. There have been a slew of doctor appointments, psychologists, medications, school officials, meetings and it feels like a never ending supply of food.
Food? Yeah food. We have a chocolate allergy, lactose issues, and the fact that his metabolism is so high that I can’t keep weight on him. I swear the kid can eat almost an entire bag of cereal as well as as much junk food that he can fit in his stomach all day long and he will not gain an ounce.
Our current after school activity is Taekwondo. It might sound like its daunting to put kids in a Taekwondo class and hope that they don’t use their new found skill on someone outside of the class. In my experience it has given us so much reward in assisting to teach A patience, empathy, as well as how to slow down and some wonderful breathing techniques. It also helps that he can go and beat the shit out of the heavy bag, allowing him to get some of his aggression out. Since starting Taekwondo we have had a significant decrease in anger outbursts, violence (physical, or threats), as well as meltdowns. If you haven’t considered it before, you might want to check it out.
Through it all, we have learned some very valuable lessons, first being patience is not a virtue, it is the key to a happy home. Secondly, routine and having a regimen is SOOOO important. Lots of people in this world don’t understand how important it is to have a schedule in our home. I have personally lost a lot of
friends asshats, some of whom are family that have had to get the boot from our little family.
Next time you have a friend that isn’t willing, to move nap time, change dinner time, switch activities at the last minute because it disrupts their children’s schedule remember that it’s not our burden to accommodate to the every whim and birthday party of every single person that we know. I don’t want to say people with normal children because there is no normal don’t seem to understand why we can’t do everything or change plans at the last second. If I have told my child for weeks or days hell even hours, that we are going somewhere and the person I have plans with wants to change their mind and do something else, we are not changing plans. That person doesn’t have to go however I am not devastating my child because they want to do something else. People think that makes me a bad friend, that aside, I would say that it makes me a good parent.
So many times I wish that as a mom I wasn’t treated like a second class citizen because my child had a meltdown in public, or did something that lead the ignorant to believe that I am an unworthy parent, as I am not. The social tide is changing in our favor which is awesome, however there will always be the occasional gawker that acts like you are a terrible parent for a meltdown running its course. I have one simple thing to say to those people. Gawking makes it WORSE! Looking at us, making rude comments about our parenting only adds to our frustration thus extending the length of the meltdown. Possibly causing us to have one of our own.
Peace and Love to you all