Grateful for Autism

I’ve spent so much energy worrying about my son’s condition, I have missed what a blessing it is in many ways.

He gives me absolutely no attitude.  If I ask him to do something, he does it, period.  Understanding how difficult it is for him to adapt to change, he works very hard to keep himself under control.  When I say, “I need a minute,” he leaves me alone.  He cooks, he cleans, he loves animals.  What more can a mom ask for?!

I’ve had a few dreams recently where I had autism.  It was like I was experiencing life as my son does and it was extremely stressful!  Much of the time, I didn’t understand what was going on and didn’t know what was going to happen.  I started wanting to hum and flap to keep myself from throwing a tantrum.

Yesterday, after the rest of the family left, my son and I started cleaning his room.  His last guinea pig recently died and he’s come to the conclusion he does not want another pet that needs liter (horray!).  As we were going through old papers, he knew exactly what he wanted to keep and what he wanted to throw away.  Some grown ups I know have difficulty determining that.

After we cleaned his room, we went for a run.  Running is one of the few things we have in common.  I try to learn about his favorite superheros and Greek mythology characters but they aren’t really my thing.  I don’t like to play video games.  I try to support him in his sports but if he wasn’t playing them, I wouldn’t be at the games.

My son is growing into a man!  This blows my mind.  I remember holding him as a baby and wondering what kind of man he would be (At only 19 years old, I was arguably still a child myself).  So far, I see a very honest, kind, hard working, determined man who is going to be a blessing to everyone who takes the time to let him into their lives.

Time flies and if I don’t reflect on and appreciate what I have, I miss out on it completely.

John Lennon said it best with :”Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”.

I am grateful for my life!

 

From my heart to yours

Thanks for reading

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My Truth About Relationships

At a few times in my life, I felt like I only had one friend.  Looking back, it was not as much of a friendship as a desperate plea to be accepted.  I didn’t accept myself.  I looked to someone else for that and it made me an extremely possessive, jealous person who couldn’t maintain a friendship.  Thankfully, most of those people are now true friends I am extremely grateful to have in my life!

I am continually amazed at how easily connections come when I am grounded and at peace with myself.  When I look into someone’s eyes, I see a heart, a soul, a spiritual person having a human experience.  Sometimes they seem to glow with white light, those are the ones I connect with the most.

Last night, I was at a party with a lot of people I had not interacted with before.  The environment was one of unconditional acceptance (a lot of genuine theater people).  At first, I felt uncomfortable, not quite sure what to do with myself.  I didn’t want to gorge on the food a few feet away but I didn’t really know what to do either.  So, I asked my higher power what I should do.  I stood around until the answers started coming.  A conversation here, an interaction there, a photo, a game, a song, a dance… It all summed up into a GREAT night!

I think I may have made some new friends!

Relationships are not static.  They change over time.  People change. If people change at a rate or direction beyond what the relationship can adapt to, it ends.  Recognizing this fact liberates one from agonizing disappointment if a relationship does not last “forever”.  It makes me be able to cherish the individual moments of connection with other people, no matter how long I have known them.

I am married to a wonderfully sweet and supportive man.  Our relationship now is not the same as when we got together.  It’s deeper, more trusting, and we do not spend as much time together as we did early on.  Both of us need “alone” time in a quiet space to hear our own thoughts or we go insane.   Thankfully, almost 8 years into our partnership, our relationship has been able to adapt at the pace of our changes as individuals.

I was married once before and as I changed, my husband stayed the same.  The relationship could not withstand our differences.  I wanted it to work out, I tried to do my part, but when I realized I did not like him when he was being true to himself  (not trying to please me), it was time to go.  That was one of the most painful and best decisions I have made to date.

My son is now a teenager.  Our relationship has changed over time too.  I used to be his primary caregiver and now I am more of a cheerleader and guide.  He can pretty much take care of himself and I am proud of the man I see him becoming.

I worry about whether or not he will be able to make friends but then I realize I’m trying to define what friends are to me for him.  He interacts with people he has never met easily.  I’m embarrassed at times but his “autistic quirks” but he does not seem to be.  I am continually touched by how kind people are to him and how they honor his tender heart, deeper than his differences.

One of my favorite times of the year is coming.  Winter…. A time to go inward, reflect on the year behind and look forward to the year ahead.  In this blog, I will continue to share what’s in my mind and on my heart.

 

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

Blessing of Autism

Once I’m on the other side of a struggle, it’s a lot easier to see it as a positive experience.  In the middle of it, it can feel completely and utterly hopeless.

Today I write thinking about mothers of newly diagnosed toddlers.  I remember going to an autism support group, crying through the whole meeting and getting several knowing “ooh, you’re newly diagnosed” comments.  At the time, I was like “what difference does that make?!”.  It does make a difference.

Now that my son is becoming successful in many areas and the challenges aren’t nearly so obvious, I’m thinking back to some good decisions I felt I made. When he was a toddler, all I thought about were the things I did wrong like: I didn’t read to him enough (never mind he wouldn’t sit still and “reading” sessions were more scream fests than pleasant interactions); I didn’t eat well enough when pregnant (never mind I was 19 and trying to adjust to a new marriage that was already rocky and getting through college); I didn’t spend enough time talking to him (never mind I was trying to be a stay at home mom with supplementary income to pay our bills); the list went on…

After the initial slap of having all my worst fears confirmed by professionals who seemed to know less about the disorder than I did, I stopped viewing my son as broken.  I started seeing him as a little person with needs, different needs than many other kids his age but no less worthy of having them met.  I was fearful he’d never pass for “normal” but learned to see that as a gift instead of a curse.  I prepped every educator and therapist on his ability to memorize the order of flash cards and test their boundaries.  If you let him get away with getting on top of the table and running around the room humming when doing therapy, he’d do it EVERY TIME.

I insisted that anyone working with him:

  1. not ask him a question unless he had a choice in the answer (don’t say “do you need a kleenex?”, say “you need a kleenex, wipe your nose”)
  2. if you asked him a question, insist on him giving an answer and respect whatever he said (see first request)
  3. if you wouldn’t accept a behavior in a “normal” kid, don’t accept it from him but give him the tools he needs to be successful
  4. model/teach him how to ask for what he needs (if he needs to have a “free to stim” break, LET HIM HAVE IT when he asks for a break).

Today, I see the blessing in our journey so far together.  In many ways, my son freed me from the bonds of social mores and performance based self-worth.  He made the life I have now possible and I am eternally grateful for that!