Saturday, 28 April 2018

Cynical, Realistic, or Well-adjusted?

I took the boys to the park today- one that we used to go to all the time when they were little- before autism, and quite often when Jack was about 2 1/2 or 3 and Nate was a baby.  We have been here lots of times between so I don’t know why today felt so different, but it did.  It may be solely because it is the first time we have come when it was this crowded in forever.  Maybe it’s because there were so many small children here.

When we arrived, like before we got out of the car, Nate had a meltdown.  He hates transitions, but he also doesn’t like being outside so much lately.  His sensory issues- visual and auditory have hit a new level and he spends a lot of time with his hands over his ears and/or eyes.  I managed to get him to walk to the farm portion of the park but the minute we arrived he threw himself on the ground and screamed.  I calmly put my hands over his ears and he held them there for a good 10 minutes.  Brilliant mama forgot the headphones- again.  Shit happens.  I followed our usual deescalation routine- here is one area where he is a typical guy- it involves food 😜.  He slowly acclimated and eventually he was okay.  

I was feeling pretty good about things.  Jack was educating the world about Boer goats, I was reminding him to find farm employees in their green shirts to talk to about them (hey they asked for it!).  My hands were on Nate's ears, he was eating chips.  And then I looked up.

All eyes were on us.  How about that?  Through all the screaming, me yelling to Jack, “are we making good choices??” and me rifling through my purse in search of my food arsenal I completely missed the fact that we were absolutely making a scene.  That the families with a baby in a stroller and a 2 year old toddling around were watching us- ok staring.  I wondered what they were thinking- what they should be thinking is “that chick can think fast on her feet AND her kid sure knows a shit ton about goats!”  Somehow I doubt that was it.  In a way, I felt bad that their seemingly idyllic farm visits, “honey look a goat!” were interrupted by my kiddos issues.  That’s the part of me that used to keep me at home with the kiddos- afraid to take them out together.

There is this other lady emerging though.  The one who thinks “I didn’t think this would be MY life either people, but guess what???” The one who thinks “this is reality, this absolutely could be you in 8 years and you have no idea”. I want to clarify- this comes with no bitterness, this is simply me reflecting on the days when I was that Mom- with the two little ones, and had no idea what was coming.  I am also not saying that what was coming was horrible.  I am merely saying that THIS life, well, it was not even a thought in my mind on a list of seemingly endless possibilities.  I was not expecting to have one child who never ever stopped talking and was an endless source of knowledge about everything I never wanted to learn about, and another child who I was endlessly begging to talk.  I was not expecting that we would stand out everywhere that we go.  That the sweet couple with their baby in a swing, clearly for the first time, would look over and see Nate stimming like crazy on the swing next to them.

And let me tell you- 4 years ago I never thought that I could be relatively ok with it.  Yep, that is my sweet boy flapping and jumping up and down on the swing.  You have no idea how awesome he is.  Your baby is adorable- mine is a warrior who works harder than anyone you will ever meet.

See, I started out the same way as those families that I was encountering.  With my tiny boys exploring the world, with no clue of what would come next.  Today I felt wise.  Not sad that my kids are getting so big, not angry that they have autism (well no more than usual), but just in the know.  When a mom shrieked at her son not to touch his baby sister after touching a goat while simultaneously diving for her hand sanitizer, it took everything I had to keep from bursting out laughing.  If my children were able to interact with each other that naturally, I wouldn't care if they licked a goat first and then kissed each other.  Just saying.
When I was pushing Nate on the swing and happened to glance up and see Jack talking animatedly to a mom with a baby strapped to her chest?  I thought, well at least she can't run away!  In the past I would have tried to get him to stop.  I would have felt embarrassed.   When I was the mom with the baby strapped to her chest, I would have wondered where the heck that kid's mom was.  But see, now I know the answer.  I am right over here- I am watching his every move- and I am thankful that someone else is listening to him for a minute because quite frankly, my ears are ringing.  So thank you. 

And you know what?  We had a great time!  What more can I ask for?  I have an answer- peace.  And I felt that today.  And that felt AMAZING


  1. Hi Jenny, I have read your blog over the past several years and before you move on from it, it would be interesting to know what your conclusions are six years on from when you started to write about autism.

    Does early intervention work?

    Do you believe in treating autism? Or accepting it? Did you change your opinion?

    How about those alternative interventions, Zyto scans etc. Would you do it all again?

    What tips would you give to parents of a child recently diagnosed with autism?

    I have an older boy with autism, so I have my own perspective, but I am sure people who stumble upon your blog in future years would be interested you to read what your experiences have taught you.


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