“Your son has High Functioning Autism. Formally known as Aspergers Syndrome.”
The relief that flooded me that day was tangible. I knew. I understood. You weren’t the ‘weird’ kid that the other parents or children at school might have labeled you. You had autism.
I ran at that diagnosis full pelt. I read and devoured every tiny morsel of information I could find on the subject of autism. Not because I wanted to fix it…but because I felt guilty.
I felt guilty… that you had been living in a world you didn’t understand and I hadn’t known a thing about it.
All the playgroups we had attended, where I had furiously pleaded with you to ‘join in’, your small face pleading with me not to ask you to. The apologetic looks I had given other parents in the school playground, as you lay on the floor, paralyzed with rage. They all tore at my heart.
Soon our house was full of visual schedules and timers. I wanted to make your world a better place. I wanted you to be happy.
My mum always says, ‘You are only as happy as your unhappiest child.’…and you always seemed so unhappy.
Sometimes you would wish out loud that you were a chair, a wall. Any inanimate object you could think of that would mean you could stop ‘feeling’ for a moment. The deluge of feelings, senses, and emotions that would assault you on a daily basis.
I will never forget ‘World Book Day’ 2012, the year you turned six. You wanted to be a Snow Owl, one of your obsessions at the time.
I can’t sew.
I spent three days and three nights cutting and sticking felt trying to copy a picture I had found on Pinterest. I watched you fly into the playground that World Book Day. My heart soaring. You were a Snow Owl. You were happy.
That was until one of the ‘judgy mums’, watching you spin like a top across the tarmac, turned to me and said ‘Gosh you must have too much time on your hands. Women like you make me think I should stay at home and drink coffee more.’
She had no idea.
These past four years things have become easier in some ways. You have learned coping strategies and mechanisms, to deal with everything. From your too loud cartwheeling sisters, to making friends…me trying to talk the anxiety out of you. I am slowly learning I can’t. That I need to give you the tools to do it for yourself.
We still have tough times, don’t we. When the world, the day, the room we are in, gets ‘too much’…but we know and you know, and those we love know, and we muddle through.
Last Christmas, we bought you your camera. Through that lens, you have taught us more about your world than we ever knew before.
You see the beauty in the ordinary things the rest of us take for granted. The line on a tennis court, the way the light falls through the trees. You have a gift given to you by your beautiful mind.
You are my Snow Owl. You are rare, unique….so very very precious.
Thank you for showing us the world through your eyes.