Unless you live under a rock you know by know that April is Autism Awareness Month. Many people will be “supporting” awareness by making donations to local organizations or wearing their blue shirts or bragging about how they “one time helped an autistic child carry books to their class” on social media. And while all of that is well and good, as an autism mom here is what I would have you do if I could.
I want you to see my son through my eyes. He is just a child. A wonderful little boy. Treat him as such!
Don’t whisper things like “I bet life at home is hard with that one.” Or “She should bust his ass, my child would never act that way in public” Or the all famous “Control your kid, what a terrible mother she must be” line. First off life at our home is just fine. At home our son is not judge for his actions that are out of his control, he has autism he does not see things they way you or I do therefore his behavior is different. Second, I’m thrilled your child behaves for you while you are out where everyone can see. Truly I am. As for me, I don’t get to pick when or what will cause my son to have a meltdown, but I know busting his ass will Not make the situation any easier on any of us. And third, I am controlling my kid, trust me on this one.
Don’t stare at him at the playground or make your children play somewhere else. As his mom all I want is for him to have the best childhood he can, just like you want for your child. And while he will not notice that you are pointing at him and shaking your head…. I will notice. He will not see that you quickly gathered your children up and moved them away from the swings and over to the sandbox…..but I will see and it hurts. Playgrounds are suppose to be safe places where children can be just that… kids. Please help me help me child be “just a kid” for just a few minutes out of the day.
Don’t ask me if I’ve tried this or that to help with his eating habits or his outburst. I know you mean well, I do, but autism is my life 24/7 if we thought it could help we have tried it. As his mom do I want to see my almost six year old eat only yogurts, Barbecue potato chips, and stage two Gerber peas, the answer is no. Babies don’t even want to eat stage two peas. But I want him to eat so we take what we can get. We have tried dairy free diets and gluten free diets and we have taken ideas from them and other diets to come up with what works best for him.
“Why is he still not toilet trained, there is no way I would be changing crap diapers at his age. If he can pee in the toilet he can poop in it”. There again if it were your son and he needed you to change his diaper at the age of 6 or at 30 you would do so, because you love him just as I love my son. And no just because he can pee in the toilet (most days) does not mean he can poop in it. With his limited diet he does not “poo” like everyone else. It’s hard and painful for him. And before you ask, yes he is on medicine to help and he still only goes once every 8 to 10 days. Autism moms are painful poo experts.
“You should take him out more places, that way he would learn how to behave around others”. Don’t you think I want to take my child out? I want more than anything to be able to go to the store or out to eat as a family without the noise or the lights sending him into a major meltdown. I want to take him to an amusement park to ride rides but know the crowd and the lines would overstimulate him and led to more harm than good. I want to enjoy family get togthers and family reunions just as much as the next person, but I know as soon as he tries to get a snack that he saw hanging out of cousin Karries bag things will get heated because those were not his but for her daughter and she does not want to share. They will not care that he does not understand personal space or personal belongs. I know school plays and class parties are to much for him, and seeing all of the other kids enjoy them hurts. I want a normal life for him but know his limitations better than anyone. So I stay home where I know he is safe.
My son hates clothes so if you get offended by an almost six year old running around in our house in only a pull-up or underwear, please do use a favor and don’t come around. He has to keep clothes on while he is at school or at church, but as soon as he is home he knows he is safe and the clothes come off. Sensory issues at their finest. Remember this is his home not yours. My job as his mom is to make him feel safe, especially at his house. I’m not trying to be mean but I use up all my patience and love on him (and our other kiddos) I don’t have time to entertain your ignorance about my sons disabilities. If it bothers you don’t come around. You can just call. You can always reach me on the phone and this will be less hurtful for all of us.
My son is not unruly or a mistake or nuisance or the monster-child uneducated society portrays him as. He is a sweet, loving, adorable kid that I’m blessed to have call me “momma”
In Our world we celebrate autism awareness every month, every day, and every minute. I do appreciate the thought of bringing awareness to something that many people deal with day in and day out but the fact is this my son will never be accepted in the social norm of things and that is something I am still trying to process and accept myself. He is loud and he chirps at different things. He looks just like any “normal child” but his meltdowns set him apart. He screams. He sits and lines cars up for hours while he rocks in place. He talks about the same airplanes for hours. He has a room “his office” where, although a cluttered mess, he knows where every lego or every piece of paper is because they are ALL his “treats” aka treasures. He plays on his tablet more than I’m sure you think he should, but that keeps him engaged for more than two minutes, in his games and videos he is in control of his otherwise out of control world. He is so smart and so funny, his laugh lights up my world more than a few times daily. He did not choose this life but it is what was given to him and he is making them most of it. So as an autism mom I ask this of you. The next time you see a child don’t be so quick to judge their behavior. If you know a family who has an autistic child offer to watch their child so they can go out to dinner or on a date with their spouse. Encourage not discourage your own child to play with them, laugh with them and be friendly with them. Treat that child with love and respect just as you treat other kids. Kids with autism are just like other kids trying to make it in this difficult world. They just have to find a way as unique as they are.
Buying a tshirt or donating money to an organization is great, but getting it actually know someone with autism is a much brighter beautiful action. And by doing so it could just be the first step to making our world a better place for everyone to live it.
So this month I will flood my social media with facts about autism and pictures of my amazing little guy in the hopes that one, just one person takes the “awesomeness” to heart and takes time to actually get to know someone with autism. They might be surprised to see just how bright that person shines.
From our beautiful chaos to yours God does not create junk. We are all beautifully made in His image. Remember that. Much love