4 minute read - Allow me to take you on a wonderful journey in autism… where none of the boring rules of the neurotypical world apply. In this journey, like any other, there will be good times and tough times, but nonetheless, they will be “us” times.
This story is about a handsome young boy born some six years ago to very boring parents, who lived in a black and white world. Everything was just “meh” until he arrived. Just 10 days short of World Autism Day, A. was born!
From birth, his mother knew that there was something magical about her son: big beautiful eyes that were always so engaging and curious and that toothless smile to die for. From A.’s birth he was a celebrity. People loved holding him and hugging him and taking pictures with this beautiful, friendly, handsome boy. By age two he was quite a ladies’ man. With a twinkle in his eye and a naughty dimpled smile, he was sure to make any pretty lady in his reach swoon.
One day, his mother fell ill and was bedridden for six months. She felt terrible that she couldn’t take care of A. Because she couldn’t hold and play with him as much as she wanted to, deep down, she felt very guilty.
A., on the other hand, the alpha male that he is, went about his day as usual. He woke up, poured milk, ate cookies and would spin anything and everything at an angle such that it looked gorgeous and the perfection with which it was done was superb! A. was happy in his magical world; every day was an adventure, every minute and every hour a new opportunity to explore the world like no neurotypical could ever even dream of.
Soon enough A.’s mom was all healthy and all set to make up for lost time. One day, Mommy and A. were at the park having the time of their lives running around playing tickles and playing in the sand box when a strange woman came up to them.
She said she was a teacher and asked Mommy if she knew her son was “abnormal.” Mommy felt she had been punched in the stomach. She didn’t know how to react.
But worse was to come as the woman went on, “I’m a teacher and I see lots of kids like yours. He’s abnormal. You can’t bring him to the park because it’s disturbing us and our normal kids.” She pointed to her two sons who were rolling on the ground and fighting each other, much like any other kids. Meanwhile, A. sat on the swing, happily swinging by himself.
Mommy got into Momma Bear mode. She quietly set the teacher straight and suggested that she educate herself about neurodiversity and see the beauty in being “different.”
It wouldn’t be the last time people would annoy Momma Bear like that. She went to the hospital and had A. assessed. To her surprise, it was the Big A diagnosis. Momma Bear was sad, worried and scared. There were days of denials; there were days of such heartaches that she thought her heart would just burst with pain. She kept thinking about all the things that she had planned for A: play groups, schools, soccer team, concerts and girlfriends...Her mind was racing and she didn’t know what to do. Many people suggested ABA and other therapies but she had no idea what to do as she didn’t really know much about autism.
Professional after professional pointed out the things that her brilliant son couldn’t do and dismissed the things that he could do as if they were no big deal. A. had a remarkable memory, others said, but so what? That’s normal in autistics. A. has excellent problem-solving skills, others said, but so what? All autistics do, don’t they?
Momma Bear soon learned that most of the people she spoke with were like the woman she had met at the park. There was only one thing left to do: she turned to the autistic community and the real heroes who made it up. These were the right people to turn to for the right advice. Momma Bear joined many groups and asked them the questions that neurotypicals were incapable of answering. She read all the books she could and was able to learn how to better nurture her bright, beautiful, handsome flirt of a son, who was now six years old and still a charmer.
And then Momma Bear realized that this was not about HER life, HER expectations, HER plans for A. It was simply about A.: HIS life, HIS experiences, HIS dreams, HIS plans!
As they say, it takes a village to raise a child. If you feel alone, then maybe you’re not in the right village!
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