|We live in a truly beautiful area!!|
As we approach any play area, we first survey the swing situation. Are there swings available? Who is around the set, teenagers who have no real business being in a kids park, loud big kids that might get nosy and ask too many questions (yea that's happened and explaining to a 7 year old what "antisocial" is isn't any easier than using the word "autistic.") or perhaps we will get lucky and there will only be a quiet little girl who's happily swinging in her own little world. This time as we got closer, we noticed a little boy, who looked to be Xander's age, swinging in a "big kid" swing with a ridge straight back, starring off into the cloudy sky. My husband and I exchanged a look. It's odd to see a three year old sit so still on a swing designed for bigger kids, but Xander has been very good at it since before he was two. It sounds silly to say that tipped us off but it did.
We got Xander on his swing and set up and he happily zoned out, enjoying one of his favorite activities. Being the "Chatty Kathy" that I am, I decided to try to make conversation with the little boy's mother. I asked the little boy's age and we had been right with our guess, they were only a month apart. We exchanged a bit of idle talk, when her son cut us off with broken words that seemed to make sense to him alone. That confirmed it for me. The mother saw me smile at the little boy and informed me he had a speech delay. I told her Xander did too, though it was unlikely she'd hear him talk at all while he was swinging. I also said that he was autistic. She seemed to loosen up a bit and commented that they had been told by his early intervention team that he was too but she didn't think it was the right time to go to Children's for testing.
That's when it hit me. Crap. She's in denial and we are one of those "wear it like a badge of honor" families. I had to switch into tread lightly mood fast. Apparently we shared a lot of the same therapist and they had been making suggestion for a while but she felt it was that big of a deal. The boys had a lot in common, both good and bad. But it was pretty clear after the 45 plus minutes we were there that this little guy was just like our boy and our therapists were making accurate recommendations.
I answered her questions about our process of diagnosis and explained that yea it sucked to hear something was wrong, but it wasn't a surprise. We knew something was up, now it just had a name. Autism doesn't make life easier but it adds color and variety to our lives in a way that I don't regret.
By the end of the conversation she said she was feeling better about it all and that she might look into making the trip after all. I truly hope she did. In my opinion, no matter how hard you fear it will be to hear what you expect, it will only get harder with time. Once you hear it, see it on paper, you can start to accept it and embrace it. Autism is part of who my son is, not who he is but a part of him. He would be different without it and for that reason I wouldn't wish it away because I love him just the way he is. But staying blind to the situation in front of you is never healthy.
I hope, in the coming years of school and therapy, I bump into her again and see that they are all doing well and maybe in some small way what I had to say to her on that overcast day at the park helped. From one Autism mom to another.