Superman is Autistic

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I will admit I was not prepared.

A good friend of mine, a man of steel himself (a fireman), assured me the new Superman movie was absolutely action packed from start to finish.  Good to hear, I thought when I read his text, because my spectrum kiddo likes romantic movies just about as much as my fireman friend and neither of them go for that girly-emotional stuff.  My spectrum kiddo is a superhero uber-fan and superheroes are his thing but girls and romance are not.  He takes the comic books and superheroes seriously.  I mean…s-e-r-i-o-u-s-l-y.  He knows who they are, knows the back story, he even knows which superhero offended or is in epic battle with another.  The boy knows it all but, at thirteen, he still wants to know nothing about girls and romance because both are still entirely gross.

So, truly, sitting in the theater during those first fifteen minutes, the movie that was supposed to be an action-packed-boy’s-paradise hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was expecting pecs, abs and biceps,  I was expecting good vs. evil, and I was expecting action packed sequences.  I was expecting to be wowed but, I’ll be honest, I was not expecting to be emotionally overwhelmed and reduced to a tearful puddle right in my theater seat.  Yes, it was sad to watch Laura and Jor-El send their son Kal-El (Clark Kent) into space to find Earth.  That scene, though heart wrenching from a momma’s perspective. produced not one tear.  I was as cool  as a cucumber.  And, as a young Superman sat in his classroom, I was thrilled and warmed to the point of smiling as I saw how he seemed to be just one of the kids in a classroom.

And that is the moment I got emotionally whacked and the bottom fell completely out of my composure.  I blame it on Clark and his mom really.  As a young and sweet pre-Superman boy sat in his lined up desk, in a compulsive row, in a classroom of conformity, his teacher asked him an unexpected question.

He was not focused.

He was not ready.

He was not paying attention because he was overwhelmed by the stimulus around him as his super powers began to surge in a way he was unprepared for.  The sounds, the feelings, the sights kicked in and he was frozen by the excess stimulus and he could not answer the teacher who was singling him out with a question.  The young actor sliced deep into my memory and the emotional pain I watched take over his face struck me personally because the panic that gripped him was the same expression I used to find on my own boy’s face when he was overwhelmed, gripped by life and his own inability to process what life was throwing at him.  And even though my spectrum kiddo was sitting calmly and contentedly beside me, it felt  like I was watching my own boy unravel up on the screen.

Autism parents get it and they understand how your heart can rise up like it’s going to break in two when your child is in crisis.  In that moment I wished all the Wonder Souls were with me.  I knew if The Village was having a movie night and I was with my Wonder Souls, the people who get it, they would have shared that gasp-out-loud moment with me because they would have felt the same deep emotional reflection that I did in their autism parent-soul.

I was frozen as an autism mom because the panic and the fear in the boy’s face was all too familiar to me.   And just as familiar to this momma was the confusion on the face of the classmates and teacher as they frowned and asked one other, “What’s wrong with him?”  And I screamed inside when the other children and the teacher made no real effort to understand what they were seeing or offer simple comfort to the young and melting down Clark.  It was much too real.  And just like my boy did during his last sixth grade melt down, sweet and innocent like young Clark, he fled the classroom for anything he could find that was more soothing than the stimulus that was crushing him.

Clark found the comfort and quiet he needed in a closet a few doors down.  Lucky for Clark he also has x-ray/ fire vision that he is able to use to cook up the door knob when the teacher tries to open the door and coax him out (my boy would have enjoyed very much having that skill).  Clark remained locked in that quieter and more soothing closet until his mother came running breathlessly down the hallway, like all autism mommas and poppas have done at one time or another after receiving that dreaded school phone call.  Clark’s mom, like moms everywhere, stopped at nothing to reach her boy and help him like she knew only she could in those desperate crisis moments.  And that is exactly what Diane Lane, as Clark’s momma,  portrayed so beautifully in the movie.  She knew her boy.  She pushed past the alienation from the other students and she looked beyond how they saw her boy and, instead, looked into the greatness of what she knew lay within him.  She saw the whole child, the brilliant child…no matter what anyone else saw.

She pleads with him to open the door and come out like the teacher has done before her and, at first he refuses.  “The world is too big,” he tells her.

And without being silenced by his very honest admission, she absorbs his words and gives back to him the peace he is searching for in a way that only a seasoned momma can.

“Then make it smaller,” she quietly instructs him.

It is the give and take, the negotiating skills, we forge from an early age with our spectrum kiddos that I notice between the two characters.  Roll with the punches, hear their words, find a path, and then bring them back down to the calm.  His wiring is utterly fried before his mother arrives and he hasn’t yet found his path back to calm.  She understands the behavioral complexities that are familiar to the autism parents who navigate through these intricate dances every day…even multiple times a day.  When he can’t find his focus, she quietly paves a path for him to step upon and remains calmly committed to his comfort until he can toe the path back to her and take hold of the calm he is seeking.

Somewhere in that exchange of heart and words is where I was blinded by the intimate reflection up on the screen that I know too well.  This is precisely the moment when I misplaced my own composure and the tears began to fall among the theater audience.  A theater audience that was not filled with my Wonder Souls.  The Wonder Souls would have understood the familiarity of the intimacy in this moment because they have stepped into the same dance themselves.  They would have heard Diane Lane’s heart lift up into her voice and fill her words with the kind of love that offered her son safety and comfort in his moment of chaos and crisis.  The moment when a mother forms a bridge with her words that extends from her heart and into her child’s deepest needs.

That is what Clark’s mother did so beautifully and that is what I felt lightly gasping inside of me as I witnessed on a sterile movie screen how two actors, she and he, had captured a fleeting emotional interchange that so few outside of the Wonder Souls and the autism parents ever see.  And I wonder, who helped her capture that?  I don’t know that answer but I know somehow they nailed it…perhaps even more than they understand.  It’s right about that time when I have this smiling tearful moment as I realize what a close knit alumni group all of us autism parents are.  We understand the gasp and how bridges made up of words can touch hearts and we get that the faster we run toward our kiddos after that heart stopping phone call from the school, the quicker we can make the world smaller when they need for their world to shrink down into a conquerable size.

In one of the final moments of this heart reflecting scene, as the boy finally opens the closet door and falls into the safety of his mother’s embrace, he utters his confusion at why he has to be different.  I can’t remember the exact words of either character because, by this time, I am a mushy mess.  For the most part he makes his comment and his mother, with this ray of  utter joy on her face, shows him his own perfection and his brilliance.  She confidently assures him of his importance.  THAT is when I knew it in my heart… Superman is autistic.  How else could they reflect what is in the deepest creases of my soul if he wasn’t?  They could not feel these depths unless he was.  He is different, he is quirky, he is brilliant and he is not less.  He is much, much more.  It was perfectly clear to me and I don’t care what anyone else says.  Autism grows, it moves and it changes and so did Superman.

Superman is autistic and his mother is a Wonder Soul and no one can convince me otherwise.  And thankfully, for my boy who thinks girls and romance are gross, the movie did not disappoint and my man of steel friend was right.  My boy saw nothing in the mom and son scene that stirred up his emotions or memories and, true to Superhero standards, Superman carried himself with man-brain decorum that kept the action revved up to super high and the kissing to a severe minimum.

Sparkle On, my friends….you fabulous Wonder Soul alumni that understand all of this like no one else probably will.  I also suddenly realize this is why The Village works so well…because we all travel the same paths through our different stories.  The same but different.  At different paces, different cultures, different time zones, different cities, different philosophies, different names of our children and yet roads that are essentially the same.

And before the fact finders pounce upon me, YES, I get that it’s a movie, he’s not actually diagnosed, she’s not his mother and they are both actors paid to act and get it right and yet, at the same time, knowingly or unknowingly, they nailed it.  The two have captured an intimate moment that reflects so deeply into many of us.  Do they know it yet?   I don’t know.  Did they intend to do what they did?  Not sure.  What I do know is what I saw reflected on that screen rippled so deeply within me that they might as well have ripped their script right out of the corner of my heart.  So much so that it made me smile through my tears because just like Clark Kent grew and changed and went on to greatness in the world as Superman, so will my boy.  Despite the challenges our spectrum kiddos face as children and adolescents, they too can go on to greatness because if that single letter “S” on Superman’s chest can mean hope, imagine what six letters, starting with “A” and ending with “M” can mean in the lives of our kiddos.  Our very own superheroes and, in my heart, I believe those letters stand for brilliance.  Absolute brilliance.

Melting More Than Butter in the Popcorn Line

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Today, my friends, I innocently went to the movies and wound up gobsmacked by life and happenstance.  This really sweet moment snuck right up on me in the popcorn line and it left my mouth hanging wide open and my heart melting.

My spectrum kiddo and I had us a little date.  Something we have actually never done before.  He could have cared less but mom thought it was pretty sweet and the boy made no bones about cringing when I told him so.  His little brother had already watched the movie with a friend and his big sister wanted nothing to do with Man of Steel.

Anyway, we walked into the theater and my boy, as usual, went off to look at the movie posters while I bought popcorn and icees.  I walked up to the counter and the young boy in front of me turns right around and immediately begins to speak to me. I have no idea who he is and it’s even more surprising since we are not in the area of town where we live.  We go to a movie theater that is downtown and off the beaten path because it is independently owned and I really like the popcorn :).  The boy is as tall as me so I assume he is anywhere from seventh grade to ninth?  Anyway, sweet kid.  He asks me what we are seeing.  Tells me he is seeing Monsters U and that he missed the movie on Friday with his friends because it was sold out.  We have this very lovely conversation and I’m wondering what’s up with this sweet and cute kid who is being oh so well mannered and kind and is not even with an adult.  And then the gobsmack hits hard when, during our conversation, he asks me about my boy but the crazy thing is, he calls my son by name.

HUH? I think to myself but do not say out loud.  What I do say is, “You know my son?”

“Yeah,” he tells me, “I was an eighth grader this year and we have P.E. together.”  My boy was only in seventh.  This was on of the “upper classmen.” as we used to call them.

“You’re in P.E. with him?”

“Yeah.” He is polite but must be thinking…didn’t I just tell her that?  But in my heart I repeat it so I can hear it again because it is slowly settling in to my memory that this is one of those kiddos.  As I  look as this handsome boy in front of me in the popcorn line, I realize this is one of the boys who had my spectrum kiddo’s back.  This is on of the boys who helped him to make his time when he ran that “ONE UNSTOPPABLE MILE.” (If you have not read about that miracle of a day, here is the link http://autismsparkles.com/one-simple-and-unstoppable-mile/)
I try not to let the tears well up while he is speaking to me because I do not want to scare a young child but it is hard because I was only told the story of the kids who stepped up to help my boy that day but I did not meet them.  My boy is independent now so I don’t spend my days on campus anymore watching out for him, supporting him, anticipating trouble.  But, this year, the kids in his P.E. class did just that and THIS BOY is one of them. Right before my very eyes.

I gather myself and say, “So you are one of the students that helped him run his mile?”
He simply says, “Yes.”

I want to say more, I am gathering my thoughts, but the cashier interrupts and asks who is next so we part.  I quickly ask, “What high school will you be at next year?” because I want him to be at ours because he likes my boy and he is a kind soul.  I won’t say the name of the school he answers with but it IS ours so, while my heart is jumping inside of me, I smile some more on the outside and calmly tell him we’ll see him in two years.

And I walk away utterly gobsmacked because autism is like that.  Autism, in our life, was never supposed to be like this.  We were not supposed to be here, in this good place.  Middle school was supposed to be full of horribly awful stuff, kids were supposed to be mean and the reports were clear that mainstream would not be for us.  And I am barely containing my tears because I realize that so much of my worrying was utterly wasteful.  Here is MY BOY, my spectrum kiddo and he is okie dokie and even though he is quirky and his speech is still choppy and his words sometimes off subject, he is liked by his peers. AND, he is more than tolerated because they even look out for him.  If you have yet to read, One Unstoppable Mile and you need a smile, stop on over and see what kids can do when a champion of a teacher walks the talk and sets a worthy example.

Different has been a harder road, no doubt, and it has had it’s fair share of troubles, bumps and strains but, on days like this, I can say with a full heart, that it has been worth every stumble and every set back.  Autism is a journey.  Autism is littered with some set backs and tears too.  But autism is also full of gobsmacking moments when you realize your journey on the spectrum has lifted a rare curtain and allowed you to witness greatness like you could never have imagined.  Sweet greatness like few have ever have the privilege of being present for.  Those fleeting moments of sparkle.  That is why I love autism. Not because it’s easy and certainly not because it’s hard and frustrating but because it gives you glimpses of greatness that, prior to it’s entrance into your life, you never even imagined exist.  Right there in the popcorn line, of all places, sparkles just rise on up and gobsmack you in the face like only autism can and I am thankful that the 1 in 88 is mine.  How lucky am I?

Yep, it’s worth it….every. single. day. …and I will NEVER underestimate the popcorn line again..EVER.  Sparkle On, my friends!

The Pirates of Autism

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Once upon a time I was not a pirate.

Once upon a time I colored inside the lines.

Once upon a time autism changed everything.

Once upon a time I might have been more apt to follow others and be the obedient good girl but, once upon a time, navigating the spectrum changed that.   I’ll also tell you right now, you may not like what I’m about to say so I urge you to brace yourself and keep the mind open because, I promise you with my whole heart, it’s going to cut across the grain that you’ve grown comfortable with.

Pirating is like that.

One of the earliest lessons the spectrum taught me was to not put all my eggs in the “experts'” basket.  It became clear pretty quick that the experts were flying as blind as I was. Autism wasn’t new but in the days of Y2K, the numbers were rising and the doctors and game plans were as gray as the spectrum.  Thankfully,when it comes right down to it, I don’t toe the party line well so going off on our own, while not entirely comfortable, was not entirely foreign either.

We set sail on the spectrum in the spring of 2001 and I will say we hit rough seas early on because, for goodness sake, it was autism.  It was vague.  It was gray.  It was the unknown.  In those beginning gray days, when the journey began, the skills I thought I owned were fairly useless when it came to autism.  Autism, in my home, seemed to thumb its nose at conventional thinking and it didn’t take long until the battle weariness of autism hit me hard and square in the face.

Autism, in those early days, laid me out flat and made me unsure that I even had skills enough to make the journey…much less overcome anything.  Who was I to think I could take on autism or make a difference?  I was not a momma with a plan.  I was not an adult with a medical  background.  I was not a woman with any know how.  I was nothing more than a momma with fear flying hard at her back.  Fear that she might not do enough, be enough, have enough to help her boy.

Fear is a powerful motivator.

It didn’t take me long to see that following the rules of the party line with the typical tool box was not always what my boy needed.  I also learned quick that though the spectrum landscape was full of autism snake oils, unicorn-dream-cures and some crazy good sales masters, following the flavor of the month autism-cure-gurus was also not for me.   It became clear that those autism-one-size-fits-all cures were not going in my basket.  The only part I was beginning to understand is that the party line and the protocols from the powers that be and the gurus were not going to bridge the gaps my boy was struggling with…no matter how much celebrity or mainstream endorsement the gurus and unicorn-dream-cures received.  It was becoming clear, in order to understand autism, the most important thing I could do for my boy was earn a PhD in my child.  The pirate in me was coming to see that I couldn’t and wouldn’t concern myself with the autism-cure-gurus.  What I did concern myself with in those gray days was standing alone if I had to and becoming the all-knower of my spectrum kiddo because that was the only way to help him…and help others to see him.

Standing alone is not always easy.

Going against the spectrum grain is not easy.

Saying no to the experts is not easy.

Following is easy and, in many ways, more soothing than pirating…so why would any sane minded momma leave the pretty, sweet, mainstream, toe the party line world behind?  Why be the push-back mom at every turn?  Why transform one’s self into a bitch, a rebel, a pirate, a pariah, a walker of the fringe, a loner, an unwanted soul?  Mostly because what I was learning best in my early pirate days is that there are no cookie cutter answers or quick solutions on the spectrum.  I left easy behind me because I believed my boy could be MORE than the experts claimed.  What I came to discover during our second year of navigating the spectrum full time is that pirates understand easy is not always best.  Pirates don’t play follow the leader and pirates don’t take the well traveled path.  Pirates know how to be the bad guy and pirates aren’t afraid to stand alone when they have to.  I left the sweet and popular life behind me as we set sail, navigating the spectrum, because I believed in my boy and there was little in the mainstream protocol for autism that seemed to work for us.

Chelation?  NO.

Relegated to Special Ed forever? NO.

Gluten/Casein free living?  NO.

Free range melt downs? NO.

Oh, honey, just wait it out, he’ll be fine?  NO.

And when the rest of the world seemed to be running away from medication, we stepped in and said YES, we will try.

Early on, in the rough and tumble, sparkle-less first years of our navigation, life and people were not always kind.  When I began to see those dismissive glances in the eyes of others, the pirate in me grew and crowded out the sweet-compliant-momma that I used to be.  I could hear the scream welling up with in me, “Do not see my boy like that!!  See him for who he is.  He is more than one of the students that you have warehoused in those classrooms at the end of hallways for decades upon decades.”

In the beginning I believed everyone could see his sparkle and his potential as much as me and I was genuinely heart hurt when I realized that mostly what people saw is that he belonged “elsewhere.” The elsewhere that resides OUTSIDE of the mainstream and if I wanted my boy to where I believed he belonged, I would need to become a constant architect in my spectrum kiddo’s life.  I would need to be his champion and to become his pirate.  I would have to be present….at home, at school, and in the community if I wanted him to be seen through my eyes.  I would have to spend the time, the minutes, the hours, the sometimes really difficult days of getting to know all of him if I was going to convince others to see more than the autism and see him in something more than a segregated life.

Even when the world stood against us, the pirate in me could see the masterpiece within him.  An original.  A child with a processing system more complicated and complex than I could ever have imagined.  I have spent the last thirteen years supporting his needs, observing his behaviors and analyzing his reactions because who he is not only matters to me…it completely astounds me.  In those first pirate days, before I really understood pirating autism, I started seeing the other families who navigated the spectrum did so a whole lot differently than me.  I began to see that who I was was different.  Not wrong or right but different.  If another spectrum kiddo did not sit down to the breakfast table and find two pieces of bacon every morning on his plate, placed on the right side, he would scream and fall apart and sparkle momma would drop everything to comply with the request or dash out to the store to get him what he wanted.  The entire family became trained in how to properly make breakfast for the boy so that he would not scream and howl and fall apart.  When he developed a comfort in the family routine of turning only left out of the driveway every single day and screamed and howled and melted down when the family one day turned right, the family changed their way of life and never turned right again.  The philosophy was to encourage, indulge, comfort and support and the pirate in me was not having any of it.

I was and am the opposite of the party line.  Those early pirate days would lay the foundation that would later come to define he and I.  If my boy ever developed a need to control his breakfast plate and my cooking to that extent, I immediately threw a wrench into the process so as to desensitize the obsession with support, change and repetition.  If he was obsessed with two pieces of bacon, I’d meet the tantrum/melt down head on by giving him one or three or none and I’d do it until he was desensitized to the mania that was gripping him.  If he wanted to only turn left, I’d prep him and support him and then turn right until he came to terms with it.  Although force feeding a child or making food a combat issue has never been my cup of tea, introducing them to new textures and flavors is a hobby of ours because change is something good to introduce too.

Autism may be a different wiring system but autism is not less intelligent.  I assure you, autism is wildly brilliant and my boy has been sharp as a tack since day one.  He understands how the system works…and he uses it to his advantage.  He can determine the “weak link” in a matter of minutes.  If he can throw a fit and get what he wants…why not try?  And try is what he does…with gusto.  If some of the big people will let themselves be manipulated by the sweet autistic boy then he feels it is his duty to give it a whirl and that boy, if allowed, can whirl it up big.

Did the boy become well behaved over night?  Not so much.  Was he well behaved by four?  Oh goodness no.  He was non-compliant and downright defiant.  My boy, as cute as he is, was anything but pretty in those days but I promise you the earlier you begin to set your backbone firmly in place, the earlier you see results.  It’s not a magic fix, it’s a process.  Expectations, structure, discipline, firm consequences and consistency all play their part and discipline, when done well, is neither loud nor angry.  I will also emphasize that a child’s ability to control and regulate their own behavior is also fully dependent on age and verbal ability.  Discipline is the art of give and take, back and forth, and it is a system of behavioral communication and choices.  A child who cannot  communicate cannot be held to the same accountability as a child who is verbal.  As my boy has matured AND gained verbal abilities, I have expected more of him behaviorally and he has, with ups and downs, stepped up to the plate.  It is not magic, it comes with chaos and ugly…and the path to a child regulating their behavior starts slow, in the early years, and in small steps.

We pushed to get into regular ed amidst the skeptics and once we got there, it was up to us to give them a reason to keep us there so, truly, behavior mattered.  And, honestly, if you let the behaviors whirl out of control you will not be able to see his academics.  Behavior WILL eclipse academics in the classroom.  There is a whole lot of talk these days about the difference between melt downs and tantrums and, honestly, it’s simply a matter of semantics to me.  In the end, whether it is a tantrum or a melt down…it does NOT matter…a child, if they are going to be educated in the richer educational classroom, is going to need the skills, strategies and support to control them BOTH.

I understand why children tantrum/meltdown.  I understand why parents take a lax approach.  I understand because it is so much easier to give in to the tantrum and soothe the meltdown than to be the bad guy…over and over and over and over and over again.  Being the bad guy all the time is NOT fun.  I assure you pirating is not the fun place to be because the spectrum behavioral combat zone is not a pretty place.  Being the bad guy is NOT easy and being the bad guy all the time is, well, daunting.  But you know what else isn’t easy?  Watching your beautiful child being placed in a segregated and hardly educational classroom full  of children who cannot control themselves either.  That was my motivator for toeing my own line rather than sticking to the party line.

Hate me because I am a pirate if that is easier for you to do but watching your beautiful and brilliant child relegated to classrooms full of out of control kiddos who are warehoused and not educated is far worse than standing up to the ugly that comes from facing tantrums/melt downs head on, every single day because that is what it takes in those early years in order to teach a kiddo the skills that are required to sit in a regular education classroom and receive a real education.

I tell you this as both a mother and a special education teacher.

And the bottom line is that you can debate the semantics and differences between melt down and tantrum until you are blue in the face but the reality is that kiddos will have to learn to control both to be in a regular ed classroom which is where I always wanted my boy to be.  You can coddle and make excuses but all that does is leave a child ill prepared for an educational system that will not tolerate the outbursts for long and will come up with their own system of requirements for removing your beautiful and brilliant child into a much less academic placement because the cute tantrum of a four year old, fifty pound child is controllable but the escalated and magnified meltdown/tantrum of a thirteen year old who has been coddled for a decade is powerful, damaging and violent and will land a child in an restrictive placement.

Pirating may be romanticized by some but pirating, on this spectrum, ain’t about the flip flops and umbrella drinks.  Oh goodness no.  That’s a whole other pirating system we can all aspire to when we take The Village on vacation one day.  Pirating autism is a matter of standing alone, walking away from the protocols and gurus that don’t serve you and traveling the path that works for you.  Pirating autism is the way in which you keep your backbone firmly in tact in the face of adversity and disagreement and move forward even when you have to do so alone.  Pirates even cry alone…until they reach The Village…and then we cry with friends who understand.

I am not of the mindset that asks the world to create a new set of rules to accommodate all of my boy’s quirkies.  I understand where that sort of notion comes from but, as a pirate, I also understand we all live in this world and this world comes with a set of socially acceptable rules and customs.  There are rules of conduct and behavior and it’s my job as a parent to prepare my boy for  that world if I expect him to be able to navigate it well.  It’s also my job to prepare the world to be a little more tolerant so that my brilliant boy can be appreciated for the fabulous gift and asset that he is.  Both sides need to come together, to move away from their set in stone corners, so that the middle ground becomes a place where we all can come together in love and support and provide better outcomes for our kiddos.  The pirating life may not be for everyone but, for me and my spectrum kiddo, it has meant the difference between living a full life and being hidden on the periphery so, come what may, good and bad, it’s the pirate life for me.  Sparkle On, my friends!

Autism: Truth and Secrets

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In the beginning, when autism first enters your life…you think it’s an ending.  You fight it, you walk around in a haze, you let the tears form massive puddles and you start to give up because you don’t know what else to do.  Helpless and overwhelming is what autism felt like to me once upon a time.  In the beginning days of autism in your life, you don’t know what autism looks like, feels like, IS like so you stumble blindly as you try to gain your footing once again. It feels like that’s all you can do because autism is a gray zone, an unknown, an X factor that pushes you into the fear zone because autism is this unexpected opponent you never thought you’d have to step up to.

Looking back now, after ten years of becoming familiar with autism, I can finally see autism for what it is and, the crazy thing is, there simply came a day, around the time when he was eight, when I stopped fearing and hating autism. I have come to see that autism is many, many things but it is NOT an ending and it is nothing to fear or regret or hate.

Autism is not a failure.

Autism to me, today and looking back over a decade long journey, is simply a new way of looking at development and processing.  It is an explicit way of raising and teaching kiddos.  It absolutely keeps no schedule and cares nothing for socially acceptable norms.  It essentially becomes a creative and trouble shooting way of parenting kids who are masterpieces and originals and unique in everything they do.  It doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t, it simply means they may take a different path to do the thing in question.

The secret to autism is learning to see the journey with patience while looking at the big picture over the long run.  Throwing out rule books and bench marks will become your best strategy and clean slates and empty canvases are the best gift you can offer your child.  What I wish for each of you is that you  throw out the fear and tears a lot sooner than I did and replace it with the kind of confidence that comes from knowing that autism is different but not less and certainly NOT impossible ❤

Autism: Denial Much?

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I had a well meaning teacher once ask if perhaps I wasn’t fully accepting of my boy’s autism.  She wondered if I might still be locked in a small level of denial. She thought I might be setting my expectations too high.  Wanting more of him than he was capable of since he was…well…of course…disabled.  She meant well and I do not fault her for asking.  I adore open and honest conversations.
I understand.
I told her that I fully get that my boy is on the spectrum.  I am not denying that.  In fact, with his quirkies running wide open, there is NO denying that.  But I also told her that I will not stop expecting him to be his very best and I will not stop pushing him further until I see that he has hit his high point.  I can see the spectrum.  I get it and he’s on it.  But what I won’t do is see ONLY the spectrum. What I won’t do is lessen my belief in him because what I see, when I look at my boy, is so much MORE than a disability.

HE is more than autistic.

He is more than those giant six letters.

He is more than the quirks and the funky habits.

He is more than the developmental challenges he struggles with.

He is more than the dismal evals and reports that try to define him on paper.

He is more than simply the confinement of that one word and I will not let any single word define him.

I can see the spectrum in him but I also see an inventor, a teacher, a scientist, and an explorer.  What I see, when I look at my boy, is utter brilliance and I see a boy who is smarter than his NT mom ever was.  I see a boy whose entire life is still a blank canvas that lies before him and I will not let it stand blank or let it be filled with a single or lesser color.  This boy, who so amply shares his view of the world in words and phrases that stun me, will be encouraged to fill his blank canvas with a myriad of brilliant colors and experiences that will transform him into the masterpiece he was destined to be.  I will not expect less of him because six confining letters happen to be written on a doctor’s piece of paper.

Autism is simply one piece of him.  Autism is a single color on a vast canvas.

He is so much more than that one word or one color and I will not, for even one moment, lower my expectations or let it confine or define who he is intended to be.  HE will decide that and I will help him the best I can by not limiting his options and colors and by swinging the doors of his world wide open to uncover every color under the sun because, who he is, is so much bigger than one six letter word.  Autism is a piece of him but I will tell you straight up, right here and now, that I will dig in my heels and push open those doors if I have to because I refuse to let it be all of him.