My son is different. Different is not always bad or weird. It’s not always special and heroic either. Sometimes different is just different.
There are pieces of parenting that are very much the same as parenting neurotypical children. Some things about parenting children with autism are really different too. For example, we attend crazy silly hours per week of Speech and Behavior Therapy, sometimes using pictures to communicate from his iPad and we make hard choices on therapy options and schools. All at the same time, we are trying to appropriately navigate parenting to our 3 ½ year old who developmentally severely delayed in some areas well below his actual age but at the same time unlocking what knowledge he does already know that may be above or at his age. It’s tough to unlock because he is non verbal but we continue to parent a little differently in how he learns to make these discoveries.
One amazing discovery a few weeks ago is he is might be my organizer and my great problem-solver! They say that good eye coordination and problem solving for children starts with sorting. Let me just tell you, he can sort many colors, numbers, patterns, animals, cars, food, you name it and he can place it in the right category! He got to show off to a few friends of mine, Patti and Lacy before we went out to dinner last week. And if you give him a sorting game on his iPad, he might be able to break a record on speed completing too!
I love questions, because it means people care and want to know more. I’ve realized that most people mean well, and I haven’t become disturbed with too many off the wall, did you seriously just ask me that?!– questions about autism. And there is nothing better than being at the park and listening to children strike up conversations with Cody and then you hear questions from little kids- because they are such a blank canvas for understanding different. This is when I quickly jump in and start explaining to the parents and their child to help them better understand. They are our future advocates, our world changers or whatever this generation will be called.
LOOK for those that stand out, share the beauty of different! Because the world is a better place when different is celebrated instead of feared or silenced.