Wednesday, April 23, 2014

They Drum to Their Own Beat

My second son, Kyler is on the Autism Spectrum and April is Autism Awareness Month and I want to tell you a little bit about how Autism affects our lives.

First, I have to tell you, my son is truly amazing(spoken like a mother, I know). He is what they call, twice exceptional. Basically, that means he has two things about him that are not “the norm.”  In his case, he has a processing disability and is gifted which translates to super, super smart. I’m not going to tell you that it has been easy to have a child with special needs. I spend a lot time working with him on social graces and how to tackle life in general. When he was little he would get so angry that we had to strap him to a car seat and leave him to calm down. I know every one of his teachers by name and worry about him constantly.

That being said, unlike many people claim, having Autism is not the end of the world and living with 
 Autism is not anywhere near impossible, and even has its upsides.

Like we tell our son, we all have hard stuff to deal with and he, like so many other autistic kids,  handles his personal challenges with grace beyond his years. Sure he has no filters and says whatever is on his mind but I kind of prefer the directness.  At school, he faces terrible ignorance and cruelty at times. Once two seventh grade boys were all up in his face swearing at him, calling him this and that and he turned and said to them, “What is it about my presence that you find so objectionable?”  The boys were left scratching their heads, probably trying to figure out what most of the words meant. 

At home, Kyler is kind (unless he’s hungry) and often the only one to thank me for mundane work like vacuuming his bedroom. In Elementary School, he would often seek out younger kids and compliment them to make them feel good because he understood that being “older” gave more weight to his opinion.  He feels, he loves, he aches just like the rest of us.

Do I think we should find out why so many kids are now on the Autism spectrum, I do. However, I think we should be careful not to treat Autistic kids like they are broken or diseased. These are children we are talking about, bright, creative, talented children that let us see the world from a different slant. They open our eyes with their candor and teach us patience with their persistence.  In a handful of years they will be our leaders and teachers, our mentors and parents and I for one cannot wait to see what they accomplish.

Autism is hard, but it is like any other challenge that we face, and I for one think this generation is up to the task.