When you think about autism, what comes to mind?

When you think about autism, what comes to mind?  Spinning, stimming, meltdowns, limited language or even no language, maybe social anxiety?  Yes, it can be any and all of those things…as well as many others. And that’s just the “child”.  Parents of autistic children have a few of our own characteristics too.

Our heads spin with frustration when trying to figure out what they are trying to communicate. “Use your words, please.”  But what if there are no words?  Lucky for me, I have a wonderful bond with Buddy, who is 25 and non-verbal.  It took a very long time, but we have built a communication understanding.  He can’t tell me what he wants or needs, but he knows that he can show me, and I will figure it out.  It may be something as simple as handing me nail clippers and sticking his finger in my hand, to show me a hang nail. Or something as complex as putting my hand in his mouth and biting down gently, to tell me that his teeth hurt and he has a sinus headache.  Sometime it takes a little while for me to figure it out, but I most always do.

Meltdowns…yes, we have them too.  I admit that when I am tired, and Buddy keeps turning his TV up full blast, after I have turned it down a dozen times within 30 minutes, I do lose it.  He is a button pusher, so he finds the volume and pushes that little sucker till it won’t go no more!  I thought I had out smarted him by duct taping bubble wrap over the buttons…but the little bugger figured out how to pull the tape off.  So, as a last resort…Super Glue!  Let’s see how long it takes for him to figure out how to unglue that little button.

Limited language…I find myself getting tired of explaining my son to new people.  Now don’t get me wrong, I can talk about Buddy for HOURS. I love to brag on him.  But when I have to tell a new doctor or service provider about him, I just want to shut down.  I find it very difficult to repeat the same clinical information over and over and over…”Normal pregnancy, wouldn’t hold a bottle until 10 month old, didn’t sit until over a year old, didn’t walk until almost 3, blah blah blah”.

Social anxiety…OH YEAH!  For several years, I wouldn’t take him anywhere I didn’t have to. It was just easier to go alone, or not go at all.  But thanks to his wonderful caregiver (second Momma) and the support of my husband, I can now take him to restaurants, doctors offices, and stores.  Now the stores are a little bit more difficult, but we figured out this one too…We always go to Walmart first, and he knows that we go straight to the card section.  He is allowed to pick out one musical card, which he plays all through the store.  This works out perfectly, because he knows the routine, and he gets to listen to a song that he picks. And then he has to give the card to the cashier so she can scan it, and then he has it for the next store too.

So what comes to mind when I think about autism? I think of this awesome young man that makes me think, smile and laugh, he is the light of my life.  Sit down for a couple of hours and I will tell you all about him!

~ASM

Putting Autism in Perspective.

Yesterday, I attended the funeral for a young man Buddy’s age. I didn’t know the boy, but I know his mom.  As I sat there, pictures of his life scrolled on a screen.  I saw him go from an infant to a grown man in 10 minutes time.

As I watched this vibrant boy grow into a man, full of life and smiles, people were sharing about his love of surfing, fishing and hunting, as well as his joyful, loving demeanor.

At first I was thinking about this young man being my son’s age and having such a full, active life.  As I realized that I was feeling sorry for myself, I switched gears, and focused on this boys mother.  What a horrible feeling it must be to be saying a final goodbye to your child.

After the funeral, I was very sad for the rest of the day, trying not to think about how I would feel in this other mother’s situation.  And then it occurred to me,  Buddy will never surf, fish or hunt…but he will also never suffer from depression, suffer addictions, or commit suicide.  I am the lucky one here…my son just has autism.

~ASM