But not in the ways you’d imagine. Not for me. I love my son. I love him for who he is. I love the way he gives hugs and kisses. Last night, my husband and I were laughing about the way he sneaks up on us like Jaws and gives us kisses when we dangle our hands casually off of couches. He just cannot help himself. He loves to kiss. Could be worse.
I love the way he appreciates everything. Oh my goodness. Yesterday, he got a toothbrush at the dentist office and squealed with excitement. I’m not joking. He loved it. We went to see his dad at work and he brought in his toothbrush, not the toy he got for being excellent at the dentist’s office, and showed everyone his new toothbrush. I mean. He ran in there and showed it off. To everyone.
I love the way he protects his brother from harm. He will let us know if anything goes wrong immediately. If he perceives that his brother overstuffed his mouth. If his brother gets too close to the stove. If his brother…does anything. Okay, so maybe that bugs me sometimes. But he loves his brother, and he wants him safe. I love him for that. And sometimes he legitimately saves his brother from harm.
I love the way he takes care of his pets. He takes his cat duties seriously. Feeds her when she meows at her bowl. Gets her water when she meows at the water dish. Puts her food up when the dog comes in. Lets us know when her food begins to run out and we need to go to the store. He’s diligent.
So what hurts about Autism? Most of what hurts about Autism has little to do with him and more to do with how the environment reacts to him.
- Bless Your Heart. People assume I’m tired because of him. Sometimes that’s true, but mostly I’m tired because of my job. It’s not his fault I’m tired. Don’t blame my son for my lack of sleep. While he gets up in the middle of the night and he loses sleep (bless his heart), he has done a better job of not waking us up. My son is growing up, maturing, and learning routines now.
- Stepping In. When I’m trying to handle his behavior, sometimes people feel the need to talk to him. If he’s in a time-out, don’t talk to him. Yes, sometimes he bites his arms. Yes, sometimes he’s yelling “stupid” or “shut up” and I ignore him. Don’t talk to him. I know what I’m doing.
- The Candy. People offer food sometimes without thinking to ask me if it’s okay first. I’ve got them on a specific diet and it really bugs me to hear that my son has had something with corn by-products in it when I pick him up from daycare or something when I know I’ve told everyone about this diet. But then I go places and this problem exists everywhere. I really appreciate the people who whisper the question “Can I give you kid…” instead of saying it out loud because once the question gets asked out loud, my life gets exponentially harder.
- Friendships. I don’t really make friends anymore. I mean, it’s not really all because of my son having Autism, but I do need to consider the fact that I cannot leave my husband with my two boys. I used to. But, I got the feeling that he didn’t appreciate it, so I stopped going out with friends, and I pretty much lost connections with everyone. I think that hurts more than anything on this list, but it is what it is. I talk about that more here. When my kids get older, maybe I’ll try again, but for now, I remain pretty much friendless.
- Noises. I cannot control the environment and that sucks. Last night, my son came and cowered in the bed with me because of a thunderstorm. The noise of a thunderstorm, by far, terrifies him the most. Having the kids in bed with me makes my back hurt because I cannot sleep comfortably, but he felt safe. On the noise topic, while he doesn’t like sudden, loud noises, he’s okay with making lots of noise himself. I mean LOTS of noise. Repetitive noises. And he has no volume control on his laugh, so Garfield and Friends laugh can really get out of control and I’ve got some noise issues myself. My ears cannot handle it (I think I need some ear plugs).
Yes, Autism hurts, but most of what hurts about Autism doesn’t have much to do with Autism itself, but about interactions with people and their assumptions about my personal life.
[ctt tweet=”#AutismHurts. But not for the reasons you think. Find out how. http://ctt.ec/0pg9L+ Never assume. #autism @embracespectrum” coverup=”0pg9L”]
I’m happy with the progress my son continues to make as he gets older. He’s learning every day to control impulses, read time, follow routines, and do things on his own. He’s learning how to take care of himself and even take care of others. We teach him these skills repetitively and he gets it.
I just wish that people understood how to interact with us, but the people in our everyday lives, at least, get better and better at it. I’m happy that the people at church talk to him directly when they want to know how he feels or how his day has been instead of asking me (because some people ask me instead of him and that bugs me too). I’m happy when they let me handle him and don’t say anything about it. He does great there.
Let the rest of the world fall in line. Autism doesn’t need to hurt. People need to understand. Autism is different for everyone. Just remember the phrase “If you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism.” Don’t make assumptions. Just love.