At the end of the summer in 2012, I wrote this post. I never finished it. I never shared it. I don't think I had the courage or the strength. But, now, I'm ready. Our school knows. Many of our friends know. Our family knows. Now, I'll share it with you:
ADMITTING THE TRUTH by El Momma
We've continued our Summer theme weeks. Since we left off, we had Tradition and History week (the week of July 4th), Vacation Bible School week, and Family Vacation week.
The last two were the hardest. You see, no matter how hard we try not to admit it, we have a child on the autism spectrum.
Anytime we break in the routine or do something new, it takes him a while to adjust. Usually after a week he's fine, but activities like VBS that only last for a week or family vacations that last for less than a week are really difficult on him.
Yes, him. We have three boys and one daughter. Autism is found in 1 in every 62 children in the US and is more likely in boys. 1 in 42 boys are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. ASD.
We're in that statistic. Hard to believe. And, hard to admit.
We don't want any of our children labeled, especially negatively. We want them to grow. Be the best they can be. Have a bright future. Be themselves.
Autism is a scary diagnosis for a parent, not because it is the worst, but because there are so many unknowns. In our case, it was mostly a shock. I grew up around people with special needs. My sister has downs syndrome and she had people who were labeled "autistic" in her classes. They didn't speak. They rocked constantly. There was no way to accurately measure their intelligence.
This is not our son. When he was little he communicated well. He never rocked. He looked perfectly normal. He was intelligent. But, slowly we began to notice that things weren't ok.
He had difficulty adjusting to new situations. He cried uncontrollably when being forced to leave a park. We could not console him for hours. He resisted making eye contact. He would get "stuck." He became obsessed with topics.
He loves vacations and he loves his family.
So, off we went to a resort in Texas last week. As much as we knew we would be blessed, we prepared that we may have tough times. It's hard. Our son doesn't look any different. But, he is. We get the "looks," even when It's not that bad. At one point he kept jumping in the pool yelling "Canonball" and jumping straight in. No Canonball. This was the last day after he had mostly adjusted. He was happy. It was a kidfriendly place. But, still, we got looks from others around the pool. Maybe they found his happiness annoying or they thought his parents were too lacking in discipline.
On the last day, I noticed another family with a special needs. Nobody seemed to look at them. A child who is more obviously special needs.When people know your situation, or at least think they know your situation, they tend to be more understanding.
We left and headed home. He cried. And cried. And, said he didn't want to go home. Adjusting. It's hard. I cried too.
He's getting older. Who do we tell? Should we have him labeled at school to get him extra help? Or, will that hold.him back and change who he can be? How can we help him? Is it enough to love him unconditionally?