Crazy, Unexplainable Dream Sparkles

Okay, so this just happened tonight.  I am still reeling a bit.  My boy  waited until just before night-night time to completely blow my mind.  It’s like I always say, the sparkles come when you least expect them and sometimes they completely blow the lid off of things.

I have never been able to explain my autistic son’s memory.  In some moments it is non existent since he struggles with memory issues but, in other moments it flashes with brilliance and is jaw dropping.  Being as non verbal as he was for a long time, there was never much memory to talk about because, truly, a boy who can’t speak can’t share with you about his now or his days gone bye.

The last five years or so, as his verbal abilities have increased, so has his ability to give back his impression of what is or was happening to him.  I relish these observations when he shares them and I share them with you mostly titled as, “Reasons to love autism: Moment…..”.  Today, however, this is too big to leave as simply a moment.

So, here goes.  Keep in mind he is thirteen now.

Wyatt: I used to have a really bad dream.  It was like a nightmare.

Mom: What happened during your nightmare?

Wyatt: It was that red Teletubbie and that lemur.

Mom: Po and Zoboo?

Keep in mind these were programs mostly my now 15 year old daughter used to watch eons ago and this is the first time he has ever mentioned them to me.

Wyatt: Yeah.

Mom:  So what happens in the dream.  Do you remember a show?

Wyatt: No, I remember this laugh.  It’s kind of creepy.

Mom: Whose laugh?

Wyatt: That lemur.  He shows up in the screen on the Teletubbie’s belly and he laughs this really scary laugh.

Mom: That does sound scary.  When did you have this dream?”

Wyatt: When we lived in Ohio

WE LEFT OHIO IN 2004.

Mom: Did you have the dream after you started in Miss Mindy’s preschool class?  ( I ask because he started Miss Mindy’s class when he was four and a half.

Wyatt: No, it was before that.

This is when mom’s jaw drops.  That had to have been in 2003.  He was non verbal and four years old.

I have said it before and I will say it again….AUTISM SPARKLES…and shocks and amazes.  You never know what these kiddos are taking in.  They may not be able to express what is happening but it does not mean the tape recorders aren’t rolling.

Mom is floored.  I wonder what else he remembers about all those moments when, because he was not verbal, I thought he was not paying attention.  Silly, silly me.

Wowed.

Sparkles In The Mud Puddle

In the fourth grade I was a mostly good speller and I will admit I was more than a little surprised when my spelling test came back with the word, “ugly” marked wrong.  Simple word,right?  Seriously hard to misspell.  How did I let this happen?  How?  I looked at the test, tried to figure out the problem and, even more so, tried to come to terms with how I, the good speller, missed such a simple word.

Except that I didn’t.  I didn’t spell it wrong.

Yeah, it was marked big and red and wrong like bad spellings get marked with a check in red and NOT a star… but it wasn’t wrong at all.  It was spelled right.  U-G-L-Y.  Pretty straight forward.  Being the rule follower and the righter of wrongs that I was, I walked up to the teacher’s desk and told her as much.  She stood firm.  She didn’t blink.  She looked right back at me with her straight and unsmiling mouth and she said out loud that I was wrong.  Ugly, she said, was spelled A-U-G-L-Y.

What?

I was naturally floored.  To me this was a life fail because not only had I believed it was a no-brainer word but now I had failed the no-brainer.  I was a no-brainer-failure which is the worst kind of fail there is.  NO-BRAINER-FAILURE.  Ugghhh.  I can still remember how flabbergasted I felt.  I was so shocked I even ran across the classroom to the encyclopedia and the dictionary to see how I could have gone so wrong.  How had I missed that?  How had I missed that -a- all my life?  The truth is, as the good old dictionary’s pages gleamed back at me in black and white, I hadn’t missed it.  What was simple was still simple.  Ugly was still spelled like I always thought it was and without an -a- anywhere in the word.  None, nada, zip, zilcho.

Nonetheless, the teacher balked.

She clearly insisted the -a- was part of the proper English spelling.  Huh?  Yep, she insisted, she was not wrong, she was just better than American English and she spelled with proper English.  Whatever, I thought, because she wasn’t even English at all so any out of date English spelling did not apply at our American school.  I let her know, according to American standards, I spelled the word right.  And, as it turned out, I was not a child in denial and incapable of taking responsibility,  I was a student in a classroom with a teacher whose ego was bigger than all of Buckingham Palace.  In that class , her ego was in fact often bigger than her ability to support, teach or nurture.

What does this have to do with mud puddles you ask?  Stay with me.  It’s right here.

Egos can get too big for their britches.  That is what happens with experts sometimes and the world of autism is filled with experts like my  teacher who, for whatever reason, believe they own the answers and know how deep and thick the mud will be on this autism journey… when, beyond diagnosis, they have not yet dirtied their shoes.  They make confident predictions about who and what children on the spectrum will be and do when, the truth is, no one knows where the road will lead.  Unfortunately, people believe the dire predictions and they give up because…why try when the experts say it’s no use?

Don’t get me wrong…the experts are important and have their place.  Just realize the experts are merely guides on this journey because autism is gray like that and guides are necessary because autism is fluid, it changes and it doesn’t much like being nailed down.  These experts with their degrees are helpful in nailing down the diagnosis but they often  lose sight of the reality that autism is more than the diagnosis.  The most important thing is to have a battle plan and you can’t formulate a good battle plan unless you have been to battle.  What the experts don’t and can’t predict is how bright the sparkle will be and how remarkably high these children and their families will rise up and fight to bridge the gaps they face.  The sparkle factor matters.  It matters BIG.

And, yes, there will be puddles.  There just will.  Autism is not always sweetness and light.  Yeah, I said it.  Autism is going to have dark moments and knock you down on occasion.  There will be mud, blackness, deep pits, and there will be unexpected levels of murkiness in some moments.  There will be uncertainty, doubt and grayness too.  But…wait for it…, the real truth is that there will also be sparkles that are sparklier than you could have ever imagined.

And, you’re right, we would not willingly order a side dish of autism for our children if given the box to check at their birth.  But the crazy thing is that if I could go back and change it…I wouldn’t.  Yep, she said the crazy thing.  I would not give autism away.  I love what it has brought into my life.  I’m not crazy about the mud and the murkiness in some choice moments but they sure have imparted some sparkly brilliance into my life that would not have existed otherwise.  That murky puddle I call autism is a really good thing that has this way of bringing the happy out and spreading laughter into my life and others.

Yeah, it can also spread out some chaos and crazy but the sparkle is worth it.  The boy rocks.

The God’s honest truth is that the autism mud puddle is going to look like a murky, mired down mess some days.  I won’t lie…it will.  But, just like with everything else, autism all depends on your perspective.   There’s magic in that muddy puddle if you open yourself up to it.  The sparkle is right inside the muddy mess.  Yeah, it’s mucky and messy and you can for darn sure get mired down inside of the complaint of how down right awful it is if you let yourself.  You can scream like a banshee at the rain and the clouds and the cold weather that came paired with it.  And, honest to goodness, you can get absolutely lost inside the pity party if you aren’t careful.

But where does that get you?  Eh?

I have watched my boy throw the wooden puzzle through the window, I have received the call from school when his class was evacuated because he had the melt down to end all melt downs.  I have had the unkind parents who don’t want us in their child’s class.  So, truly, I get it.  Nonetheless, I choose to embrace the sparkle and keep hope warmed up and ready to go.  I take the experts for the guides that they are and realize autism is not in stone.  It grows, it breathes, it moves.  And, when it sparkles, let yourself soak in those soft moments.  The heavy ones are going to come, no doubt, but if you have to hang out near the puddle, in the puddle or around the puddle, jump up high and land hard with a splash.  And smile.  At least look for the sparkle in your mud puddle because I guarantee you…it’s in there.  Honestly, it’s a whole lot brighter to look for the sparkle than it is to settle in and lose yourself in the muck for good.

A Boy And His Girl: Profound Trust

This picture is from a few summers back but I was struck by the feel of how serious they both were in this moment.  Completely enthralled with one another.  He was just four years old when the kids and I drove from Florida to Georgia’s BrassBrigade Labradors to bring her into our life.  She was just eight weeks old.  She is his friend, not just his dog.  She is the only girl he allows into his world because, at ten, girls still have big time cooties and, in his eyes, are simply gross.  This dog is a girl but she is an equal and he treats her as such.  I only wish I was sitting closer so I could have heard what they were speaking of.  The important things that boys confide only in their best dog, their first true confidant.  I love these two.  They are devoted, connected and committed to one another.  Maisy is his friend and he is her boy.  Nothing more profound in a relationship than that right there.  This is what total and profound trust looks like.