Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Embracing My Son's Differences

Sometimes I think what my son would be like if he didn't have Autism.  The first 2 1/2 years of his life I knew something wasn't quite right, but couldn't put my finger on it.  When my son was about 5 months old, my father-in-law became ill and my husband went back almost every weekend for 3 months to visit him and to check on his mom (they lived in Cleveland).  I stayed home to take care of my daughter and my son.  My father-in-law passed away when my son was about 8 months old.  Our family continued to go to Cleveland routinely  to visit my mother-in-law for another year and then cleaned out and sold their home.  During those days I would nurse him on my lap and be sorting papers  at the same time.  My in-laws were of the Depression Era so you can imagine the amount of stuff they had!  Some days it was all I could do to bathe my kids and feed them.  After we moved my mother-in-law closer to us and got her settled, I then began to notice how my son wasn't talking, making much eye contact and very much preferred his own company (all signs of Autism).  My husband suggested we get him tested through the county we lived in.  We had someone come to our house and evaluate him.  They found him to have "significant" speech delays. I still didn't suspect he had Autism.  When he was 2 1/2 I took him to the pediatrician who asked me a bunch of questions.  He is the one who diagnosed his Autism.  About six months later, we went to a child psychiatrist who diagnosed him with ADHD.  My son has been riding the bus and going to school since he was 3.  One of the hardest things I ever had  to do was put  him on the bus that first day, I'm pretty sure I cried.  He was fine with riding the bus, he likes the routine and predictability (still does).  My daughter told me recently that she can't imagine what it would be like if her little brother didn't have Autism.  We don't know him any other way.  We take such great pride in every word/skill  he learns. Lately,  he's been showing us yoga poses. The Autism "Spectrum" is so broad.  It's different for every child and what will work for one child might not work for another.  There are so many people that I have met through him having special needs.  Some will be lifelong friends.  I have an AMAZING group of friends and family that support my son and our entire family. We treat my son like he doesn't have Autism.  He gets timeouts if necessary and he has chores.  I really don't cut the guy too much slack.  He has started to veto my clothing choices for him, so it becomes a battle of wills between the two of us. His favorite word is still "no!"  But isn't that a favorite of a lot of kids no matter the age?   He keeps me on my toes each and every day!  I embrace his differences and am proud to call him my son.

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