Autism in the family can be a harsh teacher.
You acquire skills, that never, in your wildest dreams did you think, you would ever need to know. Like how to defuse a potential tantrum, with calming gestures and a gentleness in your voice. How to get a ten year old to take foul tasting meds, day after day. And the ever un-popular, how to change the diaper of an older child.
You are asked questions, that no one would ever ask a parent of a typical child. How are you going to “handle” him, when he gets bigger? Are going to put him in Residential Housing soon? Why is he not potty trained yet?
You are expected to be an expert on Autism from the day the child is diagnosed. What causes autism?, someone will ask. Have you tried the Gluten-free diet yet? What medications do you recommend for autism? What Sensory issues does your child have?
You face a society, that does not know what to do with your child, or even you. An outburst in the local Target store, can bring a drove of Security personal. Neighbors will-and one did, call DMR or, God forbid, DSS to report you, because your child runs into their yard,(even though you are running as fast as you can behind them). People openly stare at your child’s apparent lack of public behavior skills, until you say, quite loudly, “He has Autism, thanks for the concern!”.
So, what HAVE I learned from Autism? That other people can say and act more rudely than my son ever will in public. That no matter what the Doctor ever writes in his Evaluation, my son is still the same little boy he was before I read the report. It’s just a piece of paper. People will always stare, ask dumb questions, and invade our privacy, as if they have a right to.
But, most importantly, I have learned that, a little boy named Mattie has changed me, and my family, for the better. Autism, or not.