When I first met you, it was over 40 years ago, when as an 11 year old girl, I babysat for the first child I ever was introduced to with you. A beautiful tow-headed little boy with no words and a smile that would melt my heart. A few years later, when I was hired at a Residential Treatment Center while attending college, I met you again. This time, there were several young women, from their early teens to their mid-40's who taught me the meaning of loving and caring for a person with you.
Well then, Autism, you decided that I was a prime candidate for children with Autism. Yep, not one child, but 6 children, 5 with Autism. I happily accepted the position of mothering these amazing children. Through them, I have learned that you, Autism, are not as dreaded and horrible as those who write about you.
Caitlin, our oldest, has just turned 21 years old. She is in a program that teaches her work skills. She is smart and oh so very very funny. Yep, she will need our care for the rest of our lives...and then she will need to be looked after by someone else after we are gone, but she will have the ability to earn a living and possibly live in a Group Home that will love her as much as we do.
Deirdre, our second, will be 18 in May. She is graduating this year in the top 1/3 of her very large class in her very large high school. She has applied to 5 very large universities throughout the United States and has already been accepted to a highly regarded university in the Northeast....I am so very proud....she even received the Dean's scholarship. She is majoring in Theater Arts and one day, mark my word, you will be sitting in a theater watching her movies. WOW is all we can say about this witty, loving and slightly sarcastic daughter of ours (the sarcasm comes from her parent's BTW) is the diagnosis of Asperger's is not a reason to give up on your child.
Erin, our third, turned 15 last year. Man, this young woman is smart. She is active in many extracurricular activities and has many friends. Including Deirdre, who is in the activities with her. To listen to them talk about Anime' or Writing club or NHS blows me away. This girl will go on to become something amazing...I just know it.
Meaghan, our fourth, is 14. She is what you people call Neurotypical....There is nothing about her that is like anyone else. With her red hair and blue eyes against her pale skin..she catches the eye of many young boys. She has no interest, thank Goodness...right now, she wants to be the best cupcake maker EVER !! No doubt she will succeed.
Patrick, our fifth and first-born son. He is now 12 years old. What once was a child who was afraid to do anything without me, has become so independent. Not only is he on one baseball team, he was asked personally to join another due to his dedication to the team he was on, and his ability to remain calm when the other kids are acting up. I was so worried when he went into Middle School (after losing his Special Education diagnosis with his school district. He has become a strong-willed little man. He still struggles with some things, but his determination will get him through anything.
And then, Autism, you gave us Kiernan. He is our soon-to-be 11 year old boy. He is our most affected with you. That does not keep him from being the smartest, most charming child anyone has ever met. Because he does not speak, you do not keep his feelings hidden. He shows everyone, in other ways, how smart he is and how loving of a young boy he is. Kiernan continues to make straight A's in school and will be attending Middle School with his brother next year. Kiernan, like his oldest sister, will more than likely require continuous care himself. This is not an easy thing to talk about, but we must face his future with optimism and hope that there are people out there that will love him as much as we do.
Geesh, the year's have flown by.....
So, Autism, you have been twisted and formed by so many people who want you to be something you are not...
I, personally, am happy they are changing the DSM. When this happens, we will lose 3 off of the spectrum. 2 who were diagnosed as severely autistic by the time they were 3 years old, and are now considered Aspergian's.
Our 3 who will lose their diagnosis with the new criteria will be fine out in this quirky little world of ours. They will all fit in and be amongst the Neurotypical with no one noticing one little bit. You know why.... There is no such thing as "NEUROTYPICAL"...
We all have our quirks and funny little behaviors...how else do you think there are so many strange reality shows?
Yes, Autism, I have been away from the Autism forums for a while...I am much more sane in my world than their petty, bickering little area of life. My children need me to mother them, not have my head in the computer trying to prove how "RIGHT" I am all of the time. I will leave the "Right-fighting" to those with the anger and the time to do so.
Yes, Autism, I have stepped away from my blog, so I can focus on my full-time job as a mother and my other full-time job in the travel industry I love so much.
Autism, you do not define my children, you are just a label put on them by doctors. You are not their souls or most importantly, you are not their hearts. Those belong to them and to those around them that love them as much as we do.
You have taught me to be a more patient mother, to be calm when they are not, to fight for their educations, to teach them that some people are just not so nice (but that usually means they are so very unhappy themselves). Through you, my children have taught me humility, compassion and the ability to not give up no matter what.
This may sound funny to some, but frankly, I do not care....