10 Things This Mother Wishes You Knew
On the heels of the wildly successful Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew, by Ellen Notbohm, I thought I’d try This Mommy’s version. I can’t speak for all Mommies who have kids with autism, because we all have different challenges. But here’s my ten things I wish you knew:
1.) I do not wish I could trade my child for anyone else’s, nor do I long for him to be “normal.” “Normal” is a bad word in our house. Normal is boring. I would trade the pain and struggles that autism causes C, but I wouldn’t trade his personality for anything.
2.) C does care if he has friends. It may not seem obvious, but he desperately wants to connect with other kids. When I hear someone say, “Well, it’s okay because kids with autism don’t care if they have friends, right?” I want to scream.
3.) C is not a picky eater. He is not the same as a child who is finicky about foods. C is terrified of food. Phobic, in fact. There is a difference. Letting him go hungry will not, in fact, get him to eat. He will starve himself to death before eating that slice of pizza we all crave if that’s his only choice.
4.) Most of the time C is alone, and it breaks his heart (and mine) that no one invites him anywhere.
5.) I’m often the only mother at the playground actually paying attention to what kids are doing. I’m up on the equipment, facilitating interactions and protecting C from other kids as well as protecting other kids from C’s enthusiasm. It annoys the heck out of me to watch parents on the phone, chatting away, oblivious that their child might be acting horribly. It’s such a prime opportunity for learning appropriate behaviors, for children with social challenges as well as those that might need a little help learning how to be nice.
6.) Just because C is smiling does not mean everything is okay in his world. His stresses come out in different ways that aren’t immediately obvious. There are only a few choice people he will tell about sad moments in his life, and he hides those things from everyone else as best he can. Don’t be fooled by that happy face.
7.) Just because C can do something or behave in a particular way one day does not necessarily mean he can do it the next. Expect great things, but don’t expect things to always be the same.
8.) Autism can be extremely isolating for kids and their families. I want for people to be gentle with us. We need friends – kind ones who care enough to try to understand how challenging our lives can be.
9.) When I tell people C has autism, I’m not going for sympathy, for him or for myself. I just want people to understand that there’s a reason he does some of the things that he does, and I want to educate people about autism.
10.) I am tired. I am exhausted. And sometimes, it feels as though every decision is fraught with worry and double-edged swords. Is taking C to occupational therapy sending him the message that something is wrong with him that needs to be fixed? If I stop taking him to OT so that he’ll have more time to just be a kid, am I failing him? By telling him other kids will think it’s gross if he picks his nose and eats it, does his brain think I’m telling him that he is a freak? If I don’t sign him up for that social group because I have decided there are just some skills that can’t be taught, does that mean I’ve given up? And worst of all, am I doing anything, anything, that tells him I don’t love him just the way he is?
Entry filed under: autism. Tags: 10 things every child with autism wishes you knew, autism, high functioning autism, I wish you knew, my child with autism, special needs, what you don't know about autism.