The things that I hate about autism:
1. Getting a phone call that my son has punched or hit someone out of frustration whilst knowing that inside he has biggest, softest, most caring heart anyone could ask for.
2. Watching my son breakdown with anxiety and fear when facing simple challenges like trying on a new shirt or eating a new food.
3. When I lose my patience, have a Mummy meltdown and yell, “I just wish my family was normal!”
4. The volcanic explosion style arguments that break out between my boys because they can’t communicate what they want and don’t understand why no one else sees the problem from their perspective. No matter how irrational their idea is.
5. So many milestones take so much longer to achieve. It’s hard to watch other kids become responsible and mature and wander if your child will ever achieve it.
6. Constantly having to be on full adrenaline alert at any public place as your child may wander off, break something, say something or do something that puts themselves or others in danger.
7. The mess, oh my, the mess. I know that being a Lego genius means some amazing creations but it also means that the 1000 pieces he doesn’t need at the time end up on the floor. In the hallway. Up the staircase. In the toilet!
8. The constant need for stimulation, and I mean constant. From the moment they wake till they finally go to sleep their little minds are so active that I spend most of my time finding more and more things to keep them busy. Anyone wishing to donate Lego or Little Bits electronics to help the cause would be greatly appreciated!
9. My son now being aware of how different he is. “Why do I act younger than everyone else my age?” Being the easy target for bullies due to their naive nature.
10. I get tired. I need a break. I become frustrated that I’m not doing all I can to help my boys.
So there it is. A list of the things that make my life and my boy’s lives difficult because of autism. But to be honest, I’m not sure what the point is? I figure I have two choices in life. To focus on that list, and be miserable, unhappy, frustrated and angry. Or focus on this list.
1. Being different. Being “normal” is boring, let’s fact it, nothing new, different or interesting has ever happened from thinking the same as everyone else.
2. My boys have very strong emotions, they may become angry but when they feel love, it’s intense, wonderful and overflowing. My bucket regularly gets filled.
3. The glimpses I get to see of a unique perspective of everyday life. I love that I know over 100 names of Thomas the Tank engine trains and can tell you which real life tender or tank or traction engine inspired their characters.
4. When milestones are reached, each and every one of them feels like a mega victory. I don’t know too many other families who throw random acts of kindness parties.
5. The families I get to meet. There’s an instant bond you feel with other families who are dealing with challenging kids. That calming smile you can pass on to another when you recognize the “here we go again” expression in the meltdown aisle of the supermarket.
6. The innocence. While other ten year olds are in the playground talking about boobs and butts my boys are in the library talking about their Minecraft houses and hotels.
7. I am constantly challenged. The challenges give me the drive to help my boys become the most awesome adults they can be. Adversity drives the human spirit towards ingenuity. I only sold 800 Tumbletops but I’m sure the Mum’s of accident-prone Japanese toddlers appreciated them.
8. The understanding and compassion my boys will eventually develop from having survived the bullying, confusion and a childhood of being “different”.
9. I appreciate the little things. In fact, I appreciate the teeny, tiny things. A warm cup of tea. Ten minutes of peace and quiet. Sitting together as a family to eat dinner, for at least 5 minutes. Small things bring me great joy.
10. I appreciate the big things. Every time I feel like it’s all too hard, I stop myself and remember that I HAVE three children, something that not everyone gets to enjoy. I HAVE a home, food in the cupboard, a car to drive and a husband who loves me. Most importantly I HAVE hope and faith. Without these I would be truly lost.
I choose to focus on the second list. I choose to look forward and not lament on the past. I choose not to be angry. I choose to be the most awesome Mum I can be and not to focus on the things I hate about autism.