Autismomgicians. That is the title I have given myself and others like me. People always laugh when I tell them the statistics of having a son with Autism. Not in a hurtful, jokes on you, poking fun way but in complete and utter amazement. I worked in the field with individuals with Autism and different special needs in college for a total of 3 years before the birth of my oldest son. The response when people find this information out a simple, puzzled, “Huh.” Yes, I am one extremely lucky lady.
In 2018, the CDC states that 1 in 59 children, 1 in 39 boys, and 1 in 151 girls will be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I am blessed to call myself the mother of 2 out of soon to be 4 sons who are diagnosed with Autism.
And so much more than that…
The puzzle concept displays itself in our home with all the colorful differences that come with this diagnosis, ASD. On one hand, I have my middle son who could read without being taught, who needs to be engaged with mental stimulation as he is deeply passionate about learning and art, who cries while listening to Vivaldi and wants to cook. The child is so independent and self-motivating that even my husband and I laugh because, well, to put it bluntly, he thinks we are slackers at points in his very busy day. And, he is not shy to point it out, “You stink, I will kiss you after you brush your teeth!”… yes, he’s that kid.
On the opposing end, I have my beautiful wild one, my oldest child. He is limited voluntarily verbal; we have given him the title of being my angry positive motivator because if you didn’t know him, you would think that when he shouts “Hooray! You did it!” into his hands he was cheering you on with all his might, but the truth is…those are not so kind words in his “moments”. He gives the best hugs, he has the brightest smile I have ever seen in my life, but this kid will need someone to feed him grapes from a vine, fan him, and force him to take a shower for the rest of his life. We hope that his sweet beatboxing skills make him rich because he is not motivated at all… unless you have skittles, then maybe. Yes, he’s that kid.
Beautiful, Unique, & Different
I guess I am telling you all of this to explain my title and to explain that when speaking of a child on the spectrum, we are still speaking of a child, beautiful, unique, and different. In the world of parenthood sometimes we get so busy with everything that surrounds our crazy, beautiful day. Sometimes the diagnosis becomes a label of what will be or a cloud hanging over us blocking out this beautiful light that surrounds us every day. Everything becomes so serious. It becomes this life-size Tetris game. The common mistake is comparing ourselves to other families and kids, as we attempt to make the puzzle fit together. “What happens if? What do we do when? Should they be doing this by now?” We always think of how much our children with ASD need us to figure things out for them, and while they do need us a lot, can you honestly say that you have stopped to think of how much they do for us?
Having two sons on the spectrum (Autism Mom or Autismom), has made me more patient than I could ever imagine. In fact, I am noticing that I would gladly face the challenges that they bring to the table every day, then that “lovely” 2-year-old stage my youngest “neurotypical” developing child just metamorphosed from. I laugh at things society says are rules. For example, no glitter or bright eye shadow after age 16. I engage in self-stimulating behaviors such as getting close to that same glitter on the floor to see the light reflect differently. I understand the meltdown of being presented Vanilla ice cream, after being told it is Cookie Dough. I have these magical gifts (Magician or -gician) of understanding and more because I have the joy of being the mama of two boys on the spectrum who teach me to look at things differently and challenge reason. My greatest lessons come in the moments I wonder why they engage in a certain behavior, try it for myself, and realize how much I have missed out on. Like, I don’t know, bending my fingers in a dragon shape and flying it close to my eyes. I am a mold bender because of them. I live theatrically because in our house and in Oak Creek Academy we don’t let it define us; we say what Autism looks like and it is laughter, excitement, learning, and growing. Our anxieties, nor fears, nor questions about the future will change the future, therefore we choose to be fearless and dive both feet in. Because while we didn’t choose Autism I would choose to be an Autismomgician any day.