There was a lot of head scratching, hair pulling and teeth grinding before we made the decision to tell my big lad that he had autism. We took advice from people in the know and hubby and I talked it through and through and through... For quite some time we went with the "you have a busy body" explanation and it worked so why change? He began to say things like; I'm stupid, I'm rubbish and I wanted him to know that no he isn't. He is autistic.
At first he embraced it. Oh, that happens because I have autism. Yes, a break through. But...
Big lad started to say stupid autism, I hate being autistic or they don't get that I'm autistic. Sometimes he is right, it is autism that is making his life difficult but...
He is clever enough to use his autism as an excuse too.
When I hear this negativity it is like finger nails down a blackboard to me. I want to scream; No!!!
Why is my reaction so strong?
In hindsight, had we made a mistake and introduced 'autism' too early? (A good intentioned mistake but a mistake non the less.) By handing him 'autism' had we also handed him an excuse and ultimately limited his behaviour?
Time for the experts to step in. The big lad began a course with a young therapist to discuss: Who am I. The intension was to give him a much more positive view of what being autistic means for him. This was very difficult for me as in all honesty I was also struggling to find positive aspects of Big lad being autistic. I needed to change my thinking too!
Being autistic means my big lad is brilliant at:
- Seeing the detail: lost ear ring, no problem, he can spot anything.
- Seeing things in a unique way.
- Visual puzzles, logic puzzles, seeing the pattern.
- Being totally honest! Want the truth ask big lad. He never lies.
- Remembering things. Amazing memory. Put on a CD and he knows which number he wants, he remembers facts, funny stories (especially ones you don't want to) and promises made.
- Smelling things. He knows what's for dinner before he gets downstairs.
- Keeping going! He is passionate and tenacious. Big lad never gives up.
- Following the rules: He has a strong sense of what is right. He sticks to rules.
- Being Loyal. He is very loyal to his friends.
Having autism means you learn differently and think differently but so what?! You can not blame all problems on autism. It is not an excuse! I want my son to know that he can do or be anything he set s his mind to on.
Temple Grandin and Debra Moore spread the message well in a new book entitled the loving push.
High-functioning autistic children learn differently, but they are capable of living independent, productive adult lives IF their parents and other caretakers lovingly push them to do so.
My big lad will not be defined by his autism. He will be defined by his love, his passions, his sense of humor, his loyalty and warmth, his amazing memory and his intelligence. I will continue to lovingly push him to achieve!