Fellow Autism Momma, Blogger, and Military wife, who also happens to share the same first name as me posed the question “What is Your Autism?”
I started to respond as a comment there, but there is just too much to say…..
Autism is a journey. It started as speech, eye contact, and all other social development screeched to a halt when our son was 18 months old. It is Doctors who wont listen. It is family members in denial, critical , blaming me. It is other family members embracing us, coming along side and being there the best they know how. Autism is sensory issues, meltdowns brought on by the sound of the vacuum cleaner, the lawn mower, the sound of his little sister crying. Autism is cupping his hands over his ears and repeatedly opening and closing them as a thunder storm approaches.
Autism is no sense of danger, jumping into the deep end of a swimming pool or darting into the street without stopping to look. It is wandering away from the safety of home because he gets an idea in his head and decides to go to Toys R us on his own.
Autism is knowing an animal for every letter of his ABC’s. It’s watching the same movie over and over and over and over and over….(you get the picture ) repeatedly, day after day. It is randomly, usually out of context repeating lines from said movie, at any given moment of any given day.
Autism is long sleepless nights. It is non stop hyper active energy.
Autism has sent my world upside down, into a complete tailspin, and yet, it has shown me so much about myself, about my children, about the world we live in. I have seen the best come out in some people, and the worst in others. I have heard it all, “but He looks so normal, there is nothing wrong with him.” “He is just spoiled, your a bad mother” “Autism is ruining your lives, you should put him in an institution” “Oh we will watch your girls, but you have to take that boy with you”. It is rejection, Pain, sadness. A loss of dreams and hopes, a bundle of fears, a constant, daily struggle.
Autism is learning about things like IEP meetings, meltdowns, seizures, elopement, and echolalia. it’s piles of paperwork. It is Dak standing up at church, in the middle of church and announcing “I done, I go home NOW!” It is screaming and wanting Daddy home NOW when Daddy goes away for Military training. It is taking something, anything he can get his hands on when Daddy’s gear comes out of the closet to go away for training, and hiding it.
But, Autism is so much more. It is a reminder to slow down, to cherish the simple things.
It is the first time I heard my son say ” I love Mommy” at age 4.
It is seeing Him jump up and down with excitement and yell for the first time EVER, at age 11 “That’s MY BEST FRIEND!!”
It is the leap my heart felt when He ASKED, guest list and all, for a Birthday party for his 11th birthday.
It is the sound of his contagious laughter ringing through the house as he plays WITH his sisters instead of alone in his room.
It is trying not to laugh as my youngest daughter comes flying out of his room screaming “MOM tell Dak I am NOT evil!” with Dak HOT on her heels swinging his lightsaber and yelling ” I Dak-man, I battle evil”, and wanting to jump for joy that he is PRETENDING, while having to explain that he can not hit his sister with his lightsaber, that she is in fact, not evil.
Autism is a journey, paved with tears, patience, and LOTS of prayer. It is hoping for the best, and preparing for the worst. It is a battle some days, and on those days, I feel like I simply can’t go on. It is a rollercoaster where the highs are WOW! and the lows are……well, Ouch.
Like my husband tells anyone who will ask, our son is not broke, He is just wired different.
Autism is love, Unconditional, deep love, stronger than any meltdown, bigger than any low. It is a love that keeps me going even on those days when I want to give up. It is a love that enables me to pick up the pieces, calm him down when he falls apart, to fight with doctors, to stand up for his rights at school. It is a love that is like nothing I have EVER known in my life.