As an Autism parent I’ve heard a lot of things that sting quite a bit over the years. I know some is just ignorance and a lack of understanding of what Autism really is and people not really thinking about what they’re saying more than them just being cold-hearted. But either way, it still stings. Some of my all-time “favorites” (insanely strong sarcasm) are, “That’s Retarded”, “I’m not Artistic, I’m more like Autistic”, “My children are normal”, He doesn’t look Autistic” and the list goes on. However, there is one thing that I’ve had said to me multiple times that hurts more than any of the others combined, and that’s the words, “I’m sorry” as they give me a look of pity when they find out my son is Autistic. My response has quickly become, “I’m not sorry! My kid is Awesome!”. It never fails, each person that hears my response after finding out our son is Autistic seems to be startled by this every time I say it. It’s as if they expected me to say, “Thank you, Me too.”
Why in the world would you be sorry?! Is it hard sometimes? SURE! That’s parenting. Yes, somethings are bit more challenging and more work has to go into somethings with him than with my daughter, but I don’t ever feel sorry for myself and I’m certainly NOT sorry to have been blessed with my boy. I do wish I could make certain things easier for him and his world a safer and less overwhelming place, but EVERYTHING he is is why I love him so much and if I changed one thing about him, well then, he’d no longer be the AUsome kid he is.
I have SO many moments as an Autism parent that make me so much more happier than I think I would have been had I not had a child with Autism. When I say this, I mean that the littlest accomplishment with him feels like we just hit the lottery. I wouldn’t know that great joy or understand just how big of a deal it is if it all were so easy for him. I took a lot for granted before him.
I also wouldn’t laugh as much as I do. My son has made me laugh harder than anyone else on this planet. His sense of humor and his mind are one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. He’s so literal and so honest that it can sometimes be nerve-wracking in certain social situations but yet make your sides hurt from laughing in others. If your cooking is bad, he’ll tell you. If you’re smoking, he’ll tell you it’s bad for you and go on about the effects of nicotine. He has a memory like no other so although he isn’t the biggest communicator, he’s taking in everything you say and will most likely script it at a time you don’t want him to. He remembers dates and years and what we did on each of them. He can talk about movies, production companies, running times of movies, names of actors in the movie, their rating and when it’s getting released in the theatre and on DVD. Each day, he’s a new actor and he will go by that name when we go out. He may give you a celebrity name. He has a special talent of cracking parental codes to online shopping and On-Demand libraries. He wants to be an actor and comedian when he grows up. He can’t wait until he’s 16 so he can drive to the mall to buy all of the things he wants and grow a beard. He loves video games and is a whiz at them! He can’t get enough of his iPad and Youtube. He loves all things Disney and is a huge fan of Cheddar Jack Cheez-its, Pasta, Dominos Pizza and Twizzlers. He loves to swing, the Summer, swimming and is the calmest at the Beach. At the beach, you get to see his incredible imagination when he runs a “Seagull Training Academy” and teaches those bad boys how to fly. 😉 He also gives the best hugs, tells me loves me all of the time (after never hearing it for 7 years) and that I am his heart.
So now do you get why “I’m Sorry” after hearing my son is Autistic irks the hell out of me?! I’m not sorry, because he’s awesome! The only thing I am sorry about is that you can’t see it.