What Autism is to Me

It’s almost April, and the world will be lighting up blue for autism awareness.
I saw posts about autism before I had Austin. I saw friends changing their porch lights.

I saw it, but I really couldn’t relate. I hadn’t experienced autism.
Autism was something other people’s kids had.

Fast forward a few years, and our lives revolve around autism.  I read and research about it.
I analyze and obsess over whether we’re doing enough for Austin, or whether we’re doing too much.
Autism has taken over our lives in many ways.

In our home, autism looks like a sweet faced boy with chubby cheeks and dimples.
He has a smile that lights up his face. Sometimes it’s a sweet smile, other times it’s pure mischief.

In our home, autism is a little guy pulling our fingers constantly all day long. It’s how he shows us things he wants or needs, and he’s done it since he started walking.  It can be so draining. Sometimes I put my hands in my pockets or move them out of his reach because being pushed or pulled one more time makes me want to scream.

Then I feel terrible when he melts down because he can’t get to my hands. So I reach out and take his.

Autism is a ladder. We climb the ladder outside over and over to retrieve whatever Austin has thrown on the roof.
Shoes, socks, pens, goggles, hairbrushes, toothbrushes. Anything he gets his hands on can, and usually does, end up on the roof.

Autism is being on guard constantly. Austin doesn’t have any concept of danger. He doesn’t understand about busy streets, hot stove tops, or drowning.
Austin will take off at any given moment. I can’t let go of him at all when we’re out of the house.
It’s called “eloping”; something new I’ve learned recently.

In our home, autism is repetitive behaviors. Austin is either rocking on the couch, or he is throwing things and pulling our fingers and crying for us to get them back.
That’s it.
Sometimes I envy other families whose autistic children will use an iPad or who are obsessed with trains.
I look forward to the day Austin finds an interest other than throwing!
To us, autism is long nights. Austin’s little mind can’t seem to stop, and a lot of times he is awake all hours of the night.
Sometimes I don’t sleep, even when Austin is peaceful. My fears about his future take over in those dark, quiet hours when I’m not distracted by other things.

 

 To us, autism is the indescribable joy of hearing those long awaited first words. The kind of joy that spills out from your eyes and rolls down your cheeks.

 

Autism has allowed us to see our girls love their little brother in a way we wouldn’t have otherwise. Their bond is unique and beautiful. When Austin throws his goggles in the car, his biggest sister, Emma, waits for a red light, then unbuckles her seat belt and retrieves them for him.  I don’t ask her to do it, and she never complains.
The patience and compassion I see in both girls is a gift that autism has brought to our family.
In our home, autism is a little boy who is the light of our lives.  A boy who is a beautiful gift, perfectly designed the way God created him to be.

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