Posts tagged ‘typical’
Fixing or curing C’s autism has never been on my radar screen. His health and happiness are all that’s important to me, and in helping his health, his autism has taken some hits along the way. I’ve wished away the challenges autism has made him face, although I also see the flip side of his becoming a better person for having weathered those challenges.
During a particularly difficult period a few years back, I visited a therapist who told me to get angry at the autism. I puzzled away at that for months, never coming to a resolution. How could I be angry at the autism? C is autism and autism is C just as much as he is sweet and has dimples. It’s just part of who he is, and being angry at it seems counter-intuitive to me.
However, I recently understood what it meant to be angry at autism. For once in C’s life, I found myself so angry at something that happened that I wanted it all to go away. I wanted him to be a typical kid, a kid who never would’ve been put through this. More than anything, with a fury and desire I’ve never felt before, I wanted his autism to be gone.
The feeling was gone almost as quickly as it came, but I suspect I’ll always remember where I was and what was happening when I felt it. In that moment, all I wanted was that one word that is so rightfully taboo in our world because it is such a wrong word. In that moment, I just wanted him to be normal. But then the feeling went away, and back I went to my normal, in which everything just IS.
Occasionally, I have moments where I wonder if C has outgrown his diagnosis. Some days, he does so well, and I wonder if we saw the same doctor now that we did when he was 3, she’d still give him the same diagnosis. Yet there’s really no other diagnosis that fits; we’ve always said he has “C syndrome” because his medical issues combined with his developmental ones just don’t fit into a tidy little package with a word attached to it.
Usually, when I have those days of wondering where he fits on the diagnosis wheel of fortune, there is some cruel reminder of the reality of the situation. He is the only child not included in a game at the park, he can’t eat his ketchup because it’s a slightly different shade of red than the previous bottle, or he has a complete and terrible meltdown because I got him a new toothbrush. A slap in the face, really, is what it is for me. “Yup,” the universe says, “this child will struggle with some things his whole life. Deal with it.” And I do, and he does, and we all move on.
Yet tonight I had one of those reminders that really made me smile. It wasn’t a “typical” day by any stretch; there was the distress this morning over the potential of being even a second late to school this morning, combined with the total heartbreak this afternoon due to his placing last of all the 2nd grade boys in a fitness challenge at school. We talked long and hard about how everyone is good at something different, and how he’s good at many things, and how he’s only competing with himself on the fitness challenge. I reminded him he was born early and born small, and that he still had some catching up to do, and that probably “N” would always be taller than he would, and how that’s okay.
So I didn’t have far to fall today. I wasn’t getting all giddy about C “graduating” from special education or anything like that. Perhaps that’s why tonight’s reminder was such a gentle, actually sweet one. I walked into his room to change his sheets, and saw on the floor, lined up in perfect rows and perfect lines, all of his stuffed animals in complete and perfect alphabetical order.
The first time C ever got in trouble at school was during his last year of preschool. When I went to pick him up, his teacher – a delightful woman with an enchanting voice every preschool teacher should have – was aquiver with excitement. “We’ve been waiting for this!!” she exclaimed. “It’s so typical!” For the uninitiated, “typical” is the word that has replaced “normal” in the world of development and special education. “Typical” is something they strive for, at least in certain areas.
For Miss P, it was a moment that surpassed nearly all others in C’s achievements during his years with her. For him to get into trouble meant he was comfortable enough to let go, he was relaxed enough in his environment to just be a kid. I have no recollection of what he did to land in hot water, but I do remember how excited we all were.
Now, when C tells me he was “counted on,” I admit to experiencing a secret thrill. They use the “1-2-3 Magic” method at his current school, and he rarely gets past a 1. In my mind, when he reports being counted, it means he was just being a kid, a regular kid at that, and was probably participating in mischief with another child. All good things for C, in my book.