Three words that do NOT belong together – happy and autism and Thanksgiving! There is not much to be thankful or happy about when it comes to autism. I wish I could sit here tonight and write some mushy thanksgiving drivel about all the blessings that have come my way from being the mom of an autistic son, and all those wonderful skills and insights I have gained by having had to become an amateur special education teacher, IBI therapist, speech therapist, behaviour therapist, neurologist, social worker, developmental psychologist, case manager, dietician, sanitary engineer, advocate, and social media master! But none of those roles were of my choosing, rather they became necessary in order for me to make my own way through a world of misunderstanding, a world that maybe, I would rather not have known. Truly, I would rather not have to wear all those hats on top of the only one that really matters – mom!
If I change the title of this post by taking out the word “autism” and replacing it with my son’s name, so it reads “Happy N Thanksgiving” there is more to be thankful about. N is a likeable, endearing and good person, he is my quirky kid, and I love him. Cannot help but be thankful for being able to love him, for his endearing smile, his hearty irresistible belly laugh, his misplaced and sometimes wildly inappropriate and funny verbalizations, and especially for those times when he loves me back: those sublime moments of connection that he and I have at night when he crawls into bed and presses his back up against me. For me, it is a hope that love can exist where it is imperceptible, and that for my son, connection is possible, not just to me but maybe also to others. In those dark and quiet moments he is not overwhelmed by what we take for granted. At night he has little visual and auditory stimulation, and so can give and receive physical touch.
I admit I am overwhelmed by the challenges of autism, they are without comparison to any challenge that I know. I must live autism every day: when I am not physically and mentally coping with it, I am reading about it, seeking information, help, answers. I breathe in autism, and then exhale something blithe, but the autism seems to stay inside where it absorbs my thoughts, consumes my energy, dominates my prayers and even invades my dreams. I think a happy autism thanksgiving would be one in which there is NO autism!
Happy No Autism Thanksgiving to all!