The Story Of Three: Currently on my heart - Autism

Friday, December 5, 2014

Currently on my heart - Autism

As a single parent I get asked a lot of questions & occasionally receive awkward statements, anywhere from "How do you do it all" to "How are you really feeling". Truth is I'm exhausted, this single parent thing is a 24 hour, 7 day a week, 365 day a year job, but I love it, yes our schedule is full & tight, but my children do great on our schedule & are really all around great kids! 

Are there times when I'd like to run to the grocery store by myself, of course? Or pump gas with out being asked how long it will take because they are missing their Frozen song, sure but that comes with being a Mother. Some days are easier than others, but with the help of my family, a great schedule ( a large calendar to keep it all in), we make it work, just take it day by day.

Over the years I've met some pretty amazing families that are on the same journey as me, as well as made some great friends with mothers who have children just like mine. I've also lost friends, this journey isn't for everyone & not everyone is as accepting & I understand that. I love that I can hop on Facebook or text a friend local or far away (some I've never even met in person) that "gets it", there are only a few but I am so forever thankful & grateful for those few! Whether we are chatting about how the day went, what time we were woken up that morning by our special needs child, what happened at the ARD meeting or what our kid didn't eat at Thanksgiving dinner or even how worn out we are, it's nice to know they are there, right with me, every step of the way.

One thing that I was not prepared for when I first found out my son's diagnosis was "the other people", over the years as my son has gotten older, his Autism is more aware to the public eye as I will call it. When we first moved into our home on a nice little court, the boys down the street asked if my son could come out & play, at that moment he was standing in the door way with his iPad in his hands & looked like your typical kid, but when one child waved, my son didn't wave back. I nicely explained to the child that today wasn't a good day & maybe another time. I just couldn't look into his sweet little eyes & try to explain what Autism was, I knew he wouldn't understand.

When out in public, strangers don't see my son's diagnosis from afar, he's a cute little kid (or at-least I think so) I've never received rude comments to my face but I've seen the looks before. Sometimes I take both kids with me to the grocery store, well it's much easier for both kids to sit in the cart, or when we are walking through the store or restaurant & I'm holding my son's hand. I get it people, I do, this is not "normal for you" but that's what is comfortable for my son & myself. Thankfully he doesn't throw fits or get upset when we are out in public, but occasionally he may stim, flap his hands or let out a sudden "O", & it gets peoples attentions. I had an elderly lady walk up to me one day & she gave both of my kids high fives for their awesome behavior, no questions asked, I thanked her & we went on our way. That day my heart melted, there was no judgement, she was caring & I'm so thankful for her gracious heart!

With all of that said, people's looks, comments, etc don't effect my son, they aren't directed towards him, they are directed towards me, that's what hurts the most, the struggle to look away & keep my mouth shut, to ignore it all. I wish I could explain to people in a 5 minute conversation, that I've been on this journey several years, that therapists & special ed teachers are like family because they are so involved, I work hard, I push my son, everything I do is for him, everything. Every decision I make, every breath, every thought involves my son, how will this effect him, would this be good for him or not, is he going to eat this or am I just wasting my time, the list goes on & on. 

I know I can't protect my son from anyone & everyone, I know there will be bullies, I've thought about middle school & high school life for him & it scares me. He is the sweetest kid in the world, would give you a million high fives or hugs, if he really likes you might even share his snack but he has a long road ahead of him still. 

The holidays seem to be a bit tougher, we spend more time with family, more running around & I also have to rack my brain on ideas to share with family & friends on what to gift to my big guy because he doesn't play with what normal 8 year olds play with. We are so off schedule, especially over Christmas break, we are out of our norm & sometimes it shows, we aren't in school & some of our therapists take vacation as well, so it really is a toss up on what our days are going to be like. Thankfully most of my family welcomes Big Brother C with open arms, most understand & are compassionate, a few may ask questions, "Why is he doing that" or "He won't eat that, why not?" but everyone is always loving, caring & makes sure to include him in our gatherings. That's such a huge deal for me, it helps relieve anxiety, stress & makes the family visit, gathering or dinner much easier on everyone. 

I refuse to spend my nights laying awake wondering & worrying about what life will be like when my son is a teenager or adult, instead most nights, I spend praying to God, to protect him, guide him & to keep bringing people into our lives that are shining a light on my son. He absolutely loves school & all of his therapists, his face lights up every-time he sees one of these amazing people. I know in my heart that God has big plans for my son, some of them are already in play, he is truly an amazing kid & has changed my life for the better since the day he was born.

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Megan Sutliff said...

Such a raw and beautiful post Jess!! I love reading what's on your heart. I've said it before and will say it again, you're an amazing mom, so strong, and I really look up to you! I know it can't always be easy, but it looks like you are doing an awesome job and your kids know you love them with all you are. They're blessed to have you, and you're blessed to have them...God is good.

Ruth Griffeth said...

My heart goes out to you and your family! I have several friends that have autistic children, and they do put up with so much, and sometimes they forget that Mom needs time off too. So please give yourself a present this year and take a little time for yourself.