Almost ten years ago, I knew that my life was going to change. I was very pregnant at the time and awaiting for the arrival of our first born. TechyDad and I spent a lot of time going places and doing things that we knew would be more difficult with a baby. We knew that our wants would often have to be put on hold because of the needs of our child.
For nine of my years as a parent, I pulled my son along to events even if he was upset and worried about items. I figured he had to learn to cope, adjust, and go with the flow. Then, just over a year ago, we finally realized that something I suspected over five years before was true. Our son has Asperger’s Syndrome. While some may say they are sorry, I am not. My son is not deathly ill, he is simply wired differently. As I have written before, I am very thankful for answers so we can assist NHL in his journey. His Asperger’s makes him who he is and I would not change him. His quirks means that he adores simple things, but is fascinated with all complex mathematical and scientific theories.
Of course, that same wiring that has so many positive items that go along with it has draw backs. He gets overloaded more easily and often does not know how to express this in what society has deemed a socially acceptable way. These are items we are working on with him at home and in school. With time, he will gradually get better with this and already has come a long way. When we are home, he simply shuffles off to his bedroom for a safe place to cocoon. When with adults that understand, they are able to redirect him to calm down and refocus. Last week, he went to camp and it was an amazing experience. They got NHL and I can not say enough amazing things about the camp director and her staff. They helped him, and he thrived. It proves once again to me that environment is huge in how most kids will autism will react. If there is caring and understanding, they can thrive. If there is yelling, screaming, and refusal to be flexible, they won’t.
What I desperately would like to change is how people perceive individuals like my son who are on the Autism Spectrum. My child is not a spoiled brat trying to get his way. He is not fidgety because he ate too much candy. No, my son is doing the best he can trying to deal with constant sensory input that is bombarding him 24/7 and 365 days a year. Imagine this happening to you all the time. No doubt it would make you anxious, upset, and afraid of people, places, and things. Of course, NHL knows nothing different. This is the way he likely believes that everyone sees the world.
My new goal is to try to help NHL’s peers, our family, and other adults in his life to understand autism. Not only is this to help my child, but others as well. The more we educate society the better things will get for others that come along this path. This blog post is therapeutic in a way. I am venting because I am flustered with some people that refuse to understand. We are not trying to ruin your plans if we say we have to cancel. We are trying to prevent what may be a meltdown at something. We are not being rude and constantly refusing something, we are doing what is best for our child. With NHL’s diagnosis, I promised myself that I would not feel guilty about what I had forced him to do in the past. I can not do that. Instead, I am going to listen, watch him, and do what he needs at a given time. If someone refuses to understand, we will move on and stay away from that in the future.
Someday, I hope that everyone will understand autism. The reality is that if you do not educate yourself on the facts and listen to myths without getting to know the amazing kids and adults, you are the one missing out.
Disclosure: The Autism Awareness ribbon icon above was created by Melesse and comes from Wikimedia Commons.