How autism changed me.
Before my son was diagnosed with autism, I was a different person. Looking back I can see how naive I was about so many things. I was superficial, vain, self centered and insecure. I was so afraid to stand up to anyone, and I took myself way too seriously.
I didn’t say much for fear that I would say the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person. And I was afraid of people laughing at me.
After my son was diagnosed my life began to transform. I guess it was my patience first. I remember people saying things to me like “I can’t wait for you to meet my cousin’s little girl…she has special needs and I know you will just love her!”
When I began to see that Buddy’s father wasn’t stepping up to the plate, I knew that it was all on me…I had to make the hard decisions on my own. The first one, was to get divorced. When I told Buddy’s dad that I wanted to move several hours away and take Buddy with me, his response was “When are you leaving?” That sealed the deal for me. Now, B’s dad loves him, I have no doubt about that…but Buddy wasn’t the son that he had dreamed of. Quite frankly, I think his dad was (and still is) embarrassed by him.
This brings it back to me…I didn’t want Buddy to ever feel that I am embarrassed or ashamed by his autism. So once we moved, I became B’s one and only, and I had to take charge.
With the divorce, I had total control over Buddy. If his dad called, I had to answer the phone and hold it to B’s ear, and try to get him to giggle or make some sound so that his father could hear him. If his dad wanted to visit, I had to make the arrangements. (once even letting his dad stay at our house).
When his dad refused to pay child support, or help with school clothes and Christmas, I had to make sure that my frustration didn’t show in front of Buddy. I could have easily not answered the phone. Or told his dad that he was napping or not home. But I didn’t. It wasn’t about me, I had to do what was best for B. And what was best, was making sure that he had a relationship with his father. Even to the point, of sending cards on the appropriate holidays on B’s behalf. Most of the time even putting a gift card in there.
So that part of me changed. And most recently, I have noticed that I am willing to post unflattering photos of myself, as long as Buddy is “loving on me” or he looks great in the photo (it’s very hard to get a good photo of the boy). There is one that I posted just last week, my face looks like a beach ball with squinty eyes and wind blown hair, but B is looking at me with such love, that my heart fills every time I see it.
Another part that has changed, is that I will sing. Now, I know that I cannot sing my way through Happy Birthday. So even at parties, I won’t sing. In church I would never sing louder than the voice in my head. Yet, last summer, we had family visiting, and I found myself singing to Buddy in front of them, just so they could see his reactions to his favorite songs.
So, I guess one of the good things about autism, is that I have become a better person because of it.