Is it wrong that as three adults huddle in the corner of the exam room in an attempt to hold down my 92 pound son for two vaccinations that instead of crying, I am laughing? Not at his obvious horrific fear and uncontrollable sobbing, (that would make me a monster, right?) but at his proclamations of a conspiracy between his mother, who loves him more than she ever knew possible, and our beloved pediatrician who has pioneered this journey for us.
His protest of the alleged conspiracy, of course, was screamed at ear damaging decibels for all the other children in the doctors office to hear, tremble in horror and attempt their own escape. Who wouldn't, with blood curdling screams of "I know you are poisoning me with toxic chemicals", "Someone help, they are trying to kill me", and "I know I'm going to die!"?! Come to think of it, the waiting room was completely empty when we left.
After we picked ourselves off the floor and shook the ringing out of our ears, we made our escape. My son began speaking in some slow motion robotic voice I had never heard before (he later explained he was talking that way because his body felt slow and heavy, and because he thought he was dying). Of course, neurotic nut bag that I am, worried that maybe this was one too many doctors appointments and that his beautifully unique and fascinating brain snapped. I thanked the staff with a big smile and promised all of them hearing aids instead of a Christmas card next year. I'm sure we were the talk of the lunchroom.
Needless to say I could not drop him off at school immediately as I was certain his teacher would believe he was having a seizure or some other neurological problem due to his newfound robotic voice. After about 20 minutes at home with his iPod Touch and his Furby, he began speaking Furbish at a much more normal rate of speed. His brain appeared to be intact. He was back to his old self so off to school we went. I was still smiling as I left the school.
Laughing and smiling, my girlfriend has assured me, is what has kept me from a nice white padded room. Its been 6 years since I heard the official PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) or High Functioning Autism Diagnosis for my beautiful boy. I remember the exact words the wonderful psychologist said as she finally confirmed what I had feared since he was 2, "He is the same little boy he was before you walked into my office", but it felt like everything I had dreamed for him up until that moment was gone. It took me many years, many, many tears and many, many, many curse words and near breakdowns to believe her. And on the occasional days where there doesn't seem to be a curse word worthy of my frustration, enough tissues for my tears or enough encouraging words for my guilt and self doubt, my belief tends to falter.
In this world of Autism that we have become reluctant inhabitants of, I realize I am blessed beyond compare. Many kiddos on the spectrum have much bigger struggles than my boy. Certainly there are times I could care less about those other families as I get caught up in an ugly battle over homework since he no longer likes the "sound of paper" (thank God for technology). On most days, however, I embrace my son's differences and realize that he has opened my heart and mind to a beautiful way of seeing the world that I never would have known existed had he not been diagnosed with autism.
That is not to say it has been an easy acceptance. I have had some ugly heartbreaking moments trying to understand that what makes me happy is not necessarily what makes him happy. That when classroom assignments are mailed out every August, and not one kid calls to see what classroom he is assigned to, the heartache is mine, not his. When he proclaims to have no friends and swears "it doesn't make me sad at all" that he might just mean it.
In an article I read a few years ago, a mother was asked if she could take away her child's autism would she do it. She said no because it would change who her son was. I love my son for who he is and think he is utterly perfect, but I think that mother is full of sh*#! Autism is a part of my son, some days a bigger part than others, but wishing he had friends, wishing it was easier for him to put his feelings into words, and wishing he didn't feel " like an idiot" does not mean I don't love my son for who he is, it just means I'm honest. Some days I (insert expletive here) hate autism, some days I'm in awe of it. Just like that bullsh#% mother, I want the world to see past my son's quirks, his odd facial expressions and his aloofness to the enormous hearted, funny, compassionate boy that hides from societal norms because he doesn't understand them.
I have entitled this blog, The AWEnesty of Autism, because most days I am in awe of my son and his unique brain. However, I am going to be honest (AWEnest, sounds like honest get it? Kind of witty, right?) about the way autism effects my son and my family. The good, the bad the ugly.
I know, I know, another stay at home mom who thinks what she has to say is so important and worth reading. Oh wait, her kid has autism so that makes what she has to say even more important! Chances are only my friends and family and maybe someone who owes me money will read this blog. On the off chance that another mom with a kiddo on the spectrum reads it and "gets it" then that will be a bonus. I have learned more in a waiting room of other moms whose kiddos are as quirky as mine than any books, therapists, and psychologists combined.
This will be a keepin it real blog, not a preachy going to beg you to put a blue puzzle piece or an autism awareness ribbon on your car. BTW, I don't have either and that doesn't mean I don't care or I'm unaware of autism, I just think it draws more attention to my "yes, I'm over 40 and no longer have a cool car." I drive a mini van (another one of those stay at home mom prerequisites).
For the most part, my life is like everyone else's. Running kids to and from activities, wondering why we ever stopped wearing leaves for clothing as I constantly forget the wet clothes in the washing machine, and trying to keep our home running in a fairly organized fashion. Oh, and most importantly, never, ever, ever running out of Jello Vanilla Pudding or Vanilla Oreo Cakesters because the world, or at least my son's world would come to an end.
How could I have possibly known the extreme importance that the Jello and Nabisco corporations would play in my life when the doctor placed that squishy faced screaming baby boy in my arms 11 years ago?! And how could I have known that in those early days when my son mimicked the sound of my footsteps as we descended our stairs and we laughed calling him our Little Rainman, that one day that nickname wouldn't be so funny.
And so our journey began.....