Not long ago, I ran into someone I vaguely recognized at an event the children and I were attending. As we purchased tickets, I remembered that we’d met maybe six or seven years ago and that she’d had a son who at that time was being evaluated for some differences. G hadn’t been diagnosed with autism then, but had been tentatively labeled as having a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). *
With G and Z sort of doodling around behind me, I initiated a brief conversation with this woman:
Me: ““Hi. You’re blah blah, right? Yes, I think we met over to the blah blah when our boys were little…”
She: “That’s right! How have you been?”
Me: “Great, thanks. You? Do you still live on xyz street?
Me: “And didn’t you have a son with asperger’s or something like that?”
She: “Oh, thank god, no!”
I look around immediately, furtively to assess damage. G’s back is to me, uncharacteristically still.
What do I do????
First, I say, helpfully, “Well, I do. Have a son with asperger’s. He’s really great!”
“Yeah, um, no problem. Really, it’s…great…See ya…”
Next on the agenda? Make a list, of course!
Why I thank whatever forces in the Universe brought me this child who is the best kid (boy division) I have ever known (abridged version)
He is super-kind
He always tells the truth
He is generous
His attempts at eye-rolling show just how little of a real eye-roller he is
He is goodhearted
He is selfless and has no guile whatsoever
He doesn’t care what people look like
He doesn’t care what people have – money, status, possessions
He loves his teachers and makes them feel extra-appreciated
He is a gentle warrior for justice
He would never intentionally hurt any creature, except in self-defense or defense of another
He loves animals for the whole, worthwhile beings they are - with all his big heart
He always does what he says he is going to do
He always has good intentions
As they say, “If you know one person with autism, you know one person with autism.” But I can safely say that ALL the people I now know with autism – though they are as different in size, shape and temperament as any other bunch -- share these traits.
Well, some of them may be better at eye-rolling than G. But not much.
A dear friend recently shared a blog post with me where a mother was expressing her anguish about her child’s SPD* diagnosis (http://www.scarymommy.com/somethings-not-right-with-our-boy/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ScaryMommy+%28Scary+Mommy%29) .
Sure, anguish is a piece of the autism/difference picture – but for me (and most other people I know with autism and parents of children with autism) it’s anguish about how the neurotypical world will treat us/them, NOT about the “condition” itself!
I’m not saying this discrete anguish is wine and roses, baby -- it can get you down. But it is separate – at least for me – from feeling that something is WRONG with my boy (or me, or my friends, or their kids…).
For many of us, getting through the diagnosis and labeling morass, and, dealing with well-meaning and/or thoughtless ignorance are the grueling bit.
Not the autism.
And so I say unto you, Praise the Universe, YES, I do have a child with autism.
Full Spectrum Mama
* Sensory Processing Disorder is generally related to the autism spectrum, although not considered on it per se. These two neurological conditions may co-present in some individuals.