"He looks normal though." I heard it again. If only they knew. Then, maybe, I wouldn't get that snide look in the grocery store like I was somehow failing as a mom. Maybe they'd know that the reason he is screaming is indeed my fault, but not for the reasons they think. I changed plans again, but they didn't know that.
Maybe if they understood for just one day the silent battle we fight day in and day out to make our child feel some sort of peace. Maybe then they'd hold a special place in their hearts for those who are battling because they'd know what we were up against.
"Your son has Autism Spectrum Disorder." Six small words thrown together in such a way to literally make me lose my breath. Day one was hard. I cried, a lot. The weeks following were spent educating myself.
I spent hours on Google, followed with hours of taking notes trying to figure out exactly what autism was and what causes it. I purchased books on what to expect, tried to figure out if there was a cure, and dug as deep as I could into how to parent a child on the spectrum.
After a full year of studying autism, and studying my son, I found myself still feeling very defeated every single day. I realized after several months of attempted failures to beat my son’s autism, I was never going to get ahead of it. No matter how much I trained, I got second place every time and autism knew it.
It watched me all the nights I cried myself to sleep wondering how I was going to get through the following day. It watches me every time he watches the credits instead of the movie. It reminds me when he has sensory overload. Something as small as driving in the white car instead of the silver car can cause him to go into a complete melt down with no control.
It reminds me again, when I don't ever see him give me eye contact, and again when he refuses to respond when someone says, “Hi."
It's there, always letting me know that he can only eat three foods, that he can only have blue toothpaste, that we can only drive one way to school, and that God forbid plans change - we are all paying the price.
However, there's beauty that comes from having a child on the spectrum as well. Autism is intelligent. It taught Landon how to read when he was just 3 years old and allows him to remember literally everything.
Autism reminds me that I need to play with my son every single day because autism prefers mamas company. It reminds me that when he says I love you, he really means it and that pure love is real.
I've never seen an ounce of evil in autism’s eyes and that's because it doesn't exist. With autism comes hard days and some even harder nights, but it also comes with the best days and the most memorable nights.
I remember a friend mentioning one time that her 5-year-old son told her he hated her. My heart broke and inside I thought for the first time, autism can be such a blessing in disguise. My son doesn't know hate yet because autism hasn't taught it to him. It reminds me that every night when my son says, "Dear Jesus help me not to be afraid," that he really means it because autism doesn't know how to lie.
It reminds me that despite how ugly the world can be, there is a purity that will always exist inside of a little autistic person.
For the longest time, I wanted to rescue him and protect him from what I thought was going to take my baby boy from me. However, as he's grown and as I've grown, I've realized there is nothing to protect him from. He is safe and he is so happy. He is so smart and so loved. He loves his friends, he loves learning, and he still has no idea his brain is working very differently than those around him.
While he may act differently than what you are familiar with, he is our normal. Our autism babies are just like yours. They are full of emotion, fierce love, and tender hearts. You just gotta dig a little deeper to see there's more purity in his one heart than there is anywhere else.
I love this boy so much and I'm so thankful Jesus picked me to be his mommy.