I am trying something new today. I am writing this blog post on my iPad. Also I am sitting in my lounge room watching the final flakes of snow melt away as my life returns to normal after five days of snow silliness. For my little family of Aussie sand-gropers snow is a new thing too. I have to say the snow interruption to our regular routine was magical . A true winter wonderland in our new home town in the USA.
Then something else happened over our snow break. Hubby talked to our son about his autism diagnosis.
Just let me fill you in on the back story first. About 3 months ago my hubby and I were faced with the realization that it really was time to talk to Kiddo about autism. He is 6 years old. For a whole host of reasons we just knew it was time. I had also received some encouragement from a fellow autism mama who is a strong believer in self advocacy. Which I am too- but sometimes believing things in theory are easier than making them a reality.
I knew what to say in theory… but saying it out loud… to the little human I care about so profoundly was making me feel… wobbly.
So I did my research. Then I did some more reading. Then I read a few more books. Asked around. Talked to hubby some more. Got some more books out of the library. Lots of good ones. But they were not … perfect.
The main thing tripping me (and hubby) up about the books I looked at was that all of the ones I read addressed the ‘sensory defensiveness’ or aversions to touch, hugs, loud noises, smells etc that some (maybe even many) autistic people experience. My son does not. He LOVES hugs. Loud noises are not a big issue for him. He is all about the rough and tumble of play. I refer to him sometimes as my mover and shaker. There is a name for my Kiddo in this regard- he is a ‘sensory seeker.’ He loves being around people. He loves his peers. He loves excitement, he has no problem trying new things, and is a bit of a thrill seeker. Also my son does not have Aspergers – which some of the books I really liked referred to. I was afraid this might be confusing to him for a first introduction.
So – no surprises really that I couldn’t find the perfect book on autism just for him. The plan in my mind was to write my own story just for my Kiddo. It did not happen. The conversation was raised by Kiddo before I could weave my own Social Story magic!
Given all the thought and effort I put into the process it was a nice piece of irony that Hubby was the one who ended up having the first talk. This is the re-cap on their conversation…
Kiddo asked Daddy at bedtime why he had Mrs G (one of his aides/assistants in the classroom at school) helping him and the other boys and girls did not. Daddy told him it was because he had autism. He told Kiddo that because he had autism that meant he was really good at some things that other kids were not so good at – like riding his scooter at the skatepark. But having autism also meant that some things were harder for him, that he had to work hard to learn those things, so he had Mrs G to help him learn. Daddy said it would not be forever – just for a while – and then when Kiddo was older he wouldn’t need an aide anymore. Kiddo listened intently. Then he said: ‘But I don’t want to have autism. I just want to be like the other boys and girls. ‘
After three months of planning when and how to explain my son’s diagnosis to him- it was done and I wasn’t even there for it. But it happened. I was somewhat relieved, and I was choked up by my son’s response. I know there will be more conversations, but that was the first.
It made me think that over the years, in many ways, things have become easier, but then in other ways … not so much…. Anyone else feel that way?