You Don’t Expect Autism to Teach You
Parenthood doesn’t come with a user manual. Life itself doesn’t
come with a tourist guide. Each of us harbour expectations when we hold that separate
piece of ourselves nestled beneath our breast growing towards it’s own identity.
Here are my lessons at the school of Autism where my teacher is my youngest
son. A champion at meeting his own challenges.
Love is not something he keeps at arm’s length because he doesn’t love.He loves with too much heart. Love is just as much a hypersensitivity issue as too loud a rain fall or too much crowding. Living in a world where meeting an eye means connecting, caring, accepting a new heart into your world is a world where he has to be cautious in making that commitment.
Some things are scary beyond belief.I don’t have to understand why, just that it is so. Being scared of food, of textures in his mouth and of change made me face all sorts of challenges with him. We weathered the early years to 4 ½ where only formula was his go to. Then the single white food with no flavour. We progressed to 2 single foods in separate bowls until one day I was allowed to put meat balls on top of spaghetti …. No sauce! These days we both delight in his love of seafood, his desire to eat his way through the local seafood catch varieties, his occasional junior chef moments and his willingness, sometimes reluctant, to try …. At least try.
Battles are won with kindness and compassion.These battles are not with the child, but with systems, norms, expectation and standardisations. We push against stereotypes and misunderstandings. Together he and I work to break down, not only his personal protective walls, but the walls society builds with what may be considered normal, but to us is just a different kind of normal.
Often it is the tiniest bit of progress that is the greatest cause for celebration.When basic concepts so many of us take for granted are finally grasped with hard work and diligence I can’t help but find myself internally doing a joyous jig. Learning to read at age 10? How can I adequately express that joy?
Society is a mish mash.An agglomerate of exceptions, rules without reason and traditions based on long lost and antiquated conventions. Learning to see these from the eyes of a virtual stranger in a strange land allows me to question societal expectations, find reasons that can be understood and equip myself with language that explains it all to a wondering mind, a brave, intelligent, inquiring mind that sits on the edges wanting to join in, but not quite understanding the rules that engage us all every day.