Love letter to autism

Dear autism:

Some well-known dead people have said that we don’t have to understand something to love it. I keep reading that a lot of pseudo-famous living people claim it is a concept they dreamed up. Whatever.

When I think of love, I think of a safe place to be oneself, to take risks, to be comfortable and to always want to be close to  the one who is loved.

I don’t want to get too silly here and fracture language, grammar and syntax too much. I also really want to avoid getting too creepy with anthropomorphizing.

The fact is, though, that I am not one of your haters. I love you and what you have brought into my life, even if I don’t understand you.

It is not possible to be complacent or to take you for granted, because you make two of my beautiful children do wonderful things. You also make me work for every morsel of happiness. There are days when I wish we were through and then amazing stuff happens and I see how important you are to me.

This week has been one of those times.

Daniel was having a tough time with his cold and it was making it difficult for him to respond in a way that I could understand. You know that sound he makes when he is making it very clear he doesn’t want to do something? That loud sound that makes heads turn? Yeah, that one. That poor pharmacy assistant wanted to know if she could do anything to make him stop that noise while she filled my order this week.

Those days I wish you weren’t around.

But then yesterday, you make it possible to believe in magic.

I knew I was risking failure when I gave Daniel a bike for his birthday, but I could see how much he liked sitting on Rachel’s bike from time to time. I just had a feeling.

With just Daniel and me having boy time yesterday, it was the perfect time to get him on his new bike. If he made that noise–that loud noise–only he and I would be directly affected by it. I could take all day to acclimatize him or recognize quickly we need to find something else to do.

You know what? We didn’t need all day. After enough time playing with chalk he was ready to get on his new bike and ride around the block. I would have been happy to see him pedal once and get off or to push to the end of the driveway, but he had some surprises for me. He rode around the block and pedalled when I showed him how. He turned corners, cautiously but he still turned them.

I shouldn’t say we were alone. Mickey was with him as always and neighbours watched us go up the street. This is the same route we take whenever we go for a walk around the block, often when Rachel is riding her bike. The neighbours have seen your magic and have heard the noise, too.

Daniel and I (and Mickey) went around once more before deciding it was lunch time. The second time around, he relied less on me pushing. Or maybe I felt less of a need to push.

When Rachel came home for a trip to the waterpark, I told her all about it. Her response was so purely Rachel: she wanted to get on her bike right away and ride with Daniel around the block.

So she did.

It was worth waiting 7 years to see such a beautiful sight.

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10 thoughts on “Love letter to autism

    • Thank you for stopping by and for your comment.

      I get it from my parents. They lived through the Depression and my Dad fought in the war, so they I learned a lot about how to always look for the good.

      I also wanted to offer an alternative view of being a parent of autism because so often I hear that parents hate autism.

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      • I’m a new parent, and I hear so many other mothers worrying about autism, to the point where they are looking for “hand-flapping” in their 5-month-old infants.
        I’m also a therapist with kids with autism, and I wish these parents wouldn’t automatically associate autism with isolation, intellectual delay or emotional distance. I’ve met many kids who turn this stereotype on its head, and they bless their families and classmates every day.

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      • Hi Amelia and thank you for stopping by to read and comment on my post.

        When we were early on in trying to get my son diagnosed, I looked up all the indicators for autism. I was very concerned that he wasn’t a hand flapper because “everyone” suggested that it was common among kids on the spectrum. If a parent is only looking for hand flapping they miss out on so much else that could be going on and it creates so much worry for the parents.

        Your experience sounds like my view of what my son’s future–or anyone on the spectrum for that matter. We don’t know what our kids are capable of achieving or how they are going to respond to what is going on around them. The one thing for certain is that they will amaze us.

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