Wednesday, May 02, 2007
One of my son's favorite things is to go to the Publix grocery store, go to the Seafood department and belly up to the counter and ask for 1 pound of shrimp, Please. He then proceeds to carry the small. white papered and tightly bound treasure for the rest of the shopping trip. And that night I will dream up a way to fit the shrimp into our meal. And yes, he will eat it if my recipe is boiling, grilling or frying the shrimp. A small price to pay for the happiness and pride he has in bringing shrimp to our table.
Last week when we were checking out after our shrimping expedition,the elderly man who always seems to bag our grocery's was trying to have a conversation with my son after watching him so carefully place all of our groceries on the conveyer belt and then just as carefully placed each filled plastic bag of groceries back in the cart.My son was so proud of his helping me out. This very kind man soon realized that my very tall and older than his years looking boy was a little "off". He asked me was he autistic and I, for the first time, very easily and unselfconsciously and proudly answered that yes, he was autistic. That was an AH HA! moment. I realized that I had made my peace in my heart and soul and mind about my son and his autism. I am member of a group on of mothers of Autistic/PDD/Asperger's children. We have over 2000 members. Every week there are several that post for the first time after learning that their child is or may have a Autism Spectrum Disorder. They are grieving and scared and not sure what emotions they are feeling. I know because I have felt them all. I can look back at what is the stages of my life as the mother to an ASD child.My son was adopted at the age of 9 months from a foreign orphanage. He was very underweight and developmentally behind and we fell in love at first sight. He very quickly caught up and reached his milestones and was a happy NT child. Around age 2 1/2 I began to suspect a few things. He was behind in speech and was sensitive to certain noises, hated being in a crowded or closed space. But he was otherwise a pretty normal kid. He slept well and ate well, was great at play and entertaining himself, great imagination and had a laid back personality and was very easy to parent. He was affectionate.He started ST and OT at age 3 for expressive language delay and sensory issues. Still no mention or thoughts of ASD. He went to a regular preschool at age 3 and 4 and had no problems other than those already mentioned. He started K5 at the school he had been receiving EI , so he was comfortable with that. MIdway through K5, his IEP manager(who had become a personal friend) told me she was somewhat stymied by my son's group of issues. She had had many autistic students and he did not really exhibit the same symptons as they did but sometimes she would have a flash that autism was somehow involved. He met his IEP and curriculm requirements and went on to 1st grade. She told me that if my son did have an ASD diagnosis,they could adapt his curriculm and he would be provided a one on one aide in class.I knew that those services would benefit my son, but it was still hard to say the "autism" word. I called the Sparks Diagnostic Clinic in Sept. and got an appointment in Jan. During those 4 months I read everything I could get my hands on about autism, PDD, Asperger's and every other learning issue. The More I read the more I realized that Yes he sound like an ASD child and NO in many ways he did not. Like most Moms, I concentrated on the ways he was not ASD. 3 months and 3 days of testing later, he was diagnosed PDD.Autistic.PDD-NOSHIgh Functioning for surebut simply put, he was on the autims spectrum.That was last year.A year has passed since then. I cried for him, I cried for me, I cried for the future-his and ours.I cried about the unknowns and I cried about the possibilities. When someone asked about his diagnosis I would tell them Pervasive Developmental Disorder- a long name but it did not have the word autism in it. Many were none the wiser.Then I started seeing all the wonderful thnigs about my son.All the normal 8 year old boy things.Then I began to see the wonderful things about him that were because of his ASD.Yes, there are many wonderful and magical things about him, his view of the world and his personality that are a gift of his autism.After that when it would come up in coversation or out in the world , I began to just share that yes,he was autistic.You cannot tell by looking at him, or watching him play or doing most of the everyday things in life.But when it comes up and people wonder or ask or look interested in him, I want his gorgeous face and happy blue eyes to be the face of autism for them.It has taken a while and yes if I could wave my magic wand I would erase his ASD. But since that isn't possible, I am embracing his autism as I embrace him. He and I have a special bond that we have with no one else.We have a bond that I do not see between other family and friends and their children. I am peace with his autism.That doesn't mean that we do not work hard everyday on the issues it brings or have days that we curse it.But I also see everyday that I have an amazing one of a kind son and I thank God each night for the blessing and priviledge and honor to be his mother.He may be a special child,but he also makes me feel like a special Mom.


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