I was looking back through pics tonight. The little guy pics of my spectrum kiddo. The pics of the boy when he was one and two and three. The pics I took during those moments of his childhood when autism was starting to swirl in our life. I look at my spectrum kiddo in those two and three year old pics and it’s as though it was yesterday and I can still remember. I remember how the new weight of autism felt in my life and how he behaved and how I despaired about the future. I remember the pieces of paper I kept all over the house, upstairs and down, that counted the words he could say. I remember how hard I worked at listing each and every word we could hold on to so that I could have a number to disprove the doctor. I remember having fourteen when the doctor said we should have a hundred and then having just forty six when we should have had five hundred and how hard I tried to remember if there were anymore I’d forgot to list. Sleep deprivation from a mom of three under four does not always travel well with autism and specific recall.
I distinctly remember the helplessness that was so often simmering right under the surface of my composure. I remember how I fretted and would become unexpectedly tearful any time I began to speak of him. So much for my composure during those days! I loved him so deeply but, being me, I was pretty darn skilled at rounding life off to the nearest disaster when I resided in that helpless zone. I was even better at looking at the future instead of the now. There were no game plans, support groups, no FB friends, not one person to help me see beyond the darkening curtain of autism that doctors were surrounding us with. It felt like, in those early years, I was losing my boy.
He was distant.
He was quirky.
He had odd habits.
He was overly sensitive.
He was picky.
He was not social.
He did not talk.
His evals were abysmal.
His skills were limited.
I see that little man in the pics now and I can finally really see him. I’m not sure I could at the time when I took the pic because all I could see in those early years was the fret, the worry and the autism that kept popping up in reports. Now, with our journey traveling as far as it has, I wish I could have stopped the fret and the worry because now that I can truly see this kiddo who has grown up, I marvel at the weight we sometimes let autism grow into and how we let it cloud our vision and allow our own fret and worry to cloud the growth of our Supermans(and girlies) as they are developing.
Who he was, over the years, did not magically change. He still owns every single quirky piece to some degree but, tonight as I look at him playing with his wii-u, he has certainly grown immensely and yet I also can see clearly he is very much still the same kiddo that he was at three. NO cures, NO magic bullets, NO gurus for us….and yet I see him and he is also almost entirely different. It’s as though the wiring in his body and his brain,at two and three and four and five, was way-jumbled up and it took time, more time than for his brother and sister, for the wiring issues to be worked out. It took lots of extra years for him to grow his coping skills and he’s still quirky and he’s still got his odd habits but….it’s okay. It’s really okay. Who he is….is very okay. Superman is okay. Not perfect and not always easy but it’s fine and who he is is so much more than I ever could have imagined and this life we live with him is more than I could have dreamed up.
So, really…from the bottom of my heart….I’m advising you to simply relax. Step in and work hard, sure, but also give the kiddos breathing room and understand that just because it’s not happening now doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. Let them be kiddos and love who they are and don’t stop working on strengthening those weaknesses but do add a level of patience and fun to your bag of strategies.
Don’t be the fret-ball-o-tears that I was.
My boy, my wonder, my Superman of autism, is exactly who he is meant to be but I wasted a LOT of time in those early years grieving some image that I created in my own head of who I thought he was obligated to live up to. How silly is that? And, you know what? Not only does life not work that way but, more than anything, that’s not fair to him. It’s not right to predetermine who we expect our children to be because of some selfish vision we have in our own heads. Let them evolve into who they are meant to be. My boy, with all his quirkies and imperfections, is entirely himself and he is perfectly HIM. My goodness, he is Superman! He will continue to grow and change and morph into just who he was meant to be and I will take a deep breath, fight every fight to clear his path, support his growth, strengthen any weaknesses we may find along the way and, every day, I will keep on marveling at the miracle he is in my life. Simply the very best version of himself that he could possibly be.
I am still gobsmacked that the two year old boy in those baby pictures grew up to be Superman, my Superman, and I am the lucky one who gets to help him adjust to this journey because this world really needs more kiddos like him. Marvelous souls who can share with us all the textures, striations and brilliance that are privy only to their spectrum eyes and, I tell you honestly, that’s a much more striking image than the cookie cutter vision that was floating aimlessly around in my head on the day he was born. He is so much more than I ever imagined and I am finally able to see that brilliance takes time to develop. Mysteries are not unraveled in an instant and Superman was not grown in a day. Take that deep breath and remember, with patience and lots of love, they will continue to grow into the super heroes they were destined to be.
Sparkle ON, my friends!!