Kids on steroids

June 18, 2008 at 7:02 am 4 comments

     I’m often looking for a quick explanation to give to people when they ask what it’s been like raising C. I realize it’s difficult for people to understand what other people’s lives are like, and I want to be able to share in a way that helps people understand both the challenges and the joy.

     I think having an autistic child, no matter where on the spectrum they fall, is like multiplying everything by 10. Much of what C does is hyped up in one direction or another. While I have been thankful not to have to attempt to figure out how to teach C to read, I would give just about anything to get him to eat a new food. Learning the states and their capitals? No problem. Blowing his nose? A zillion steps that have taken years to process.

     And skipping developmental steps, or going through them at different times than “normal” have also presented interesting challenges and non-challenges as well. While my friends were desperately child-proofing every single thing in their homes to protect their toddlers, C was busy working on sitting up. We never really had to worry about him hitting his head on the coffee table; by the time he decided he was ready to walk, he just stood up and walked. There was no toddler stage in our house.

     Not only are tasks often out of whack in terms of the ease or difficulty with which they are learned, but emotions are often very strong as well. While the tantrums and extreme distress are difficult for not only us, but for C as well, it’s tempered by the great and absolute joy he experiences over minute little details in life. New toothbrush? Tantrum. Getting an extra 5 minutes of computer time? Sheer giddiness. Outgrown shirt? Tears. New yellow shirt to round out his “closet rainbow?” Worthy of a press release.

     Husband and I often laugh at ourselves in wonderment at the fact that we would probably have no idea what to do with a “typical” child. And honestly, we consider that fact a bit of a badge of honor. Not that we deserve a pat on the back; rather that we are in some kind of cool, secret club. Sure, the dues can be high, but it’s worth every figurative penny.

Entry filed under: autism. Tags: , , , , , , .

Where did everybody go??? Perspective

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jesch  |  June 18, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Oh, you deserve a pat on the back. Lots of them.

    Well, I can hardly wait for you to come out west and give me some. 😉

  • 2. acollage  |  June 18, 2008 at 10:15 am

    You’ve hit on a really great point here! Four years ago, we started our little guy in swim classes. He has no appropriate sense of danger, so we wanted him to know how to swim but it turned out that the pool was the one thing he didn’t like. (This came on the heels of washing face/hair being seen as torture, lol.) He hated Mommy & Me swim as it required him going underwater. We just thought it was odd, he hadn’t been dx’d yet. The next year, with a dx, we enrolled again. While every other parent rejoiced in their child kicking along with the board, we jumped up and cheered when ds put his face in the water. Jump in the pool from the side? Great for your kid, sure, but for me, I’ll just be glad if he gets in the pool without a tantrum. Autism has taught us to appreciate the little things, and don’t let them speed by without recognition.

    Absolutely! We had the same problem here with water. Anyway, it really does change your perspective on parenting, and I think it’s pretty much in a good way – that is, if you’re not so frazzled from the tantrums. 😉

  • 3. robinaltman  |  June 18, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    I admire you so much. You gloss over your incredible grace, but I can tell you from experience that not all parents learn to appreciate the quirks of their kids the way you do. I think that you and your husband are on your way to creating quite the young man. You too, “Acollage” (although we’ll make that “woman” in your case.)

    Thanks, Robin. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments when I wish we could wave a magic wand and have a “typical” kid (usually, it’s when C is hurt somehow by his differences), but I know in the long run he will be that much more amazing because of how he’s struggled.

  • 4. goodfountain  |  June 18, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Such great points! I know just what you are saying. Some things, indeed, have been easier for Chee, but other things are so much harder. Simpler things. Like you, I don’t think it makes parenting harder – just different.

    Yup, different it is. That’s a perfect word!


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