Beautiful. Funny. Silly. Smart. Loving. Cuddly. Strong. .... Autistic.
It's part of who he is. Just one part. One part that impacts every other part of his life. When you look at him.... you don't see it. When you talk to him, interact with him, you start to wonder. You may feel a little uncomfortable when he runs up to you and hugs you without even knowing who you are. When he gets right in your face to talk to you. When you can't understand what he is trying to tell you. When he stutters and trips over his words. And then struggles to find the right word that is in his little brain and just won't come out. When he spends the time you are at my home visiting hiding in his room or lining up his cars because he just had a stressful day and can't deal with any more. When he gets angry and shouts and throws toys because his frustration level is just too high and he has no way to release it. When he asks to jump because he needs to be quiet. When he cries over something that would make another child laugh. When he tries to interact with your child and gets frustrated when they don't do what he wants them to. When he tells you what You should be saying or doing because in his mind... that's the way it should be. When you realize that at 6 years old... we still have problems with potty training. When he won't eat what you fixed him for lunch because it has sauce on it. Or the food is touching. Or he doesn't like food that is too hot. Or too cold. Or too.... anything. When he begins to twirl in the grocery store. Or pretends to be a cat in the middle of Wally World... complete with rubbing on your legs and meowing. When he gets scared of the loud intercom, the loud siren or the loud insects. When he cries because the music is too loud. When he throws his toys around the room and breaks them because he can't decide what to play with. Or because they are too bright. Or too noisy. Or for some reason that I just can't figure out. When you see me on Facebook at 3 am because he is still awake and we are worried about leaving him up without supervision but nothing is working to get him to just.... go to sleep. When he runs away from me in a parking lot. In my yard. At the store. In the library. When he screams because he just can't figure out what else to do.
When you look at him, you can't really tell that he is autistic. That he has autism. That he has a disability that will be with him for the rest of his life. And so you think maybe he is just.... spoiled. Or being naughty. Or maybe he is retarded. His parents just need to spank him, teach him right from wrong, control him.... You think his behavior is a choice on his part. But it's not. Or, to be honest, not always. He is still a little boys and sometimes he has typical little boy issues. But most of the time.... he can't control the emotions. He can't stop the behavior. He doesn't understand that he is acting in a socially unacceptable way.
But he sees the way you look at him. He feels the stares. He hears the whispers. He hears you when you walk up to his parents and say "Why don't you control that little boy? He needs a good spanking!". He hears and he knows but he doesn't know why. And we are left to try to explain the unexplainable.
Autism is cruel. Humanity has the ability to be crueler.
Autism is not the tradgedy. Ignorance is the tradgedy.
PLEASE. Please. Please. If you see a child misbehaving, try not to stare. Try not to be judgmental. You don't know what the parents are going through. You don't know why the child is behaving the way he is.
PLEASE help to raise awareness of autism. 1 in 110 children is diagnosed with autism. Boys are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed than girls. These numbers are growing every day. Autism is not curable. But it is treatable. Therapy can help. Understanding can help.
My son is very special. He is an incredible little boy. One day, I expect to watch him graduate from high school. If he chooses, I expect to see him graduate college. I hope one day that he will live in his own home. I hope he is able to find a partner in this life, to love him and understand him.
Until then.... I'm here.