“He’s just like any other boy”.
I was making sure Austin didn’t follow someone through our gate the other day and this comment was made. It’s not the first time this has been said to me, and I know it’s said with the intention to make me feel better and reassure me that Austin isn’t so different. That he is just like any other 5 year old boy.
I don’t mind this comment because it is true. Austin can be like any other 5 year old. He wants what he wants when he wants it. If he doesn’t get his way, he sometimes gets frustrated and will pitch a tantrum.
He loves to play outside, and when he’s not in school, that’s where you will find him. Covered in mud or sand, rosy cheeked and sweaty. Just like other boys.
He has learned the art of procrastinating bedtime. As soon as I finish the countdown he suddenly HAS to have some Nutella, or crackers, or juice. Or more “Elmo raining” (His favorite episode of his favorite show).
Yes, in many ways, Austin is like any other 5 year old.
What I don’t say in response to these comments though, is that in more ways, he is nothing like a typical 5 year old.
Austin elopes. He engages in self-injurious behaviors. He doesn’t play. He isn’t able to carry on a conversation. He stims all the time. He struggles to focus for more than a few seconds. He is obsessed with toilets, yet he enjoys using the bathroom everywhere but the toilet.
Austin is not your typical 5 year old boy. He has autism. But his differences are what make him who he is. His struggles and ability to overcome them make him amazing.
In the last couple of years Austin has progressed from being nonverbal to using speech as his main method of communicating. My absolute favorite thing to hear when he wakes up, whether it’s at 3 am or 7 am is “Hi mommy.” He comes to his door and says that repeatedly until I come. “Hi mommy. Hi mommy. Hi mommy” It doesn’t matter how tired I am, there is nothing sweeter to my ears than that little voice calling me.
We’re having behavioral issues with Austin making a mess and choosing not to go on the toilet at times, but the fact that he is potty trained and in underwear all day is such an accomplishment for him.
He is really improving his social skills. He wants his sisters to bounce with him on our backyard trampoline all the time. He says “daddy swing?” to ask daddy to push him on the swing.
As he begins to speak more we’re seeing his personality emerge. And we’re discovering that our awesome boy has a great sense of humor and loves to laugh. He is quickly becoming the class clown at school, and I love hearing the stories of his antics.
Once it was how he folded a classmate up in a nap mat and cracked up laughing. (His classmate thought it was funny too!)
On a field trip earlier this year he decided to toss his sneakers out of the window 🙂
Today his teacher says he climbed up on the cabinet during nap time and sat there saying “go to your mat” and smiling because he knew that’s what she would say.
This past fall Austin figured out that presents are fun. And the little boy who used to be oblivious to birthdays and Christmas is now very excited by the sight of packages.
All of these things make our little guy one of a kind. But the best thing about him is simply that he is ours. Austin is the perfect mix of his daddy’s features and my dark hair. He is the little boy we prayed we’d have. He is our only son, and he has brought so much joy to his daddy and me and our girls.
He makes us realize what’s important in life, and we’ve learned to celebrate the little things. He reminds me every day to trust that his life is in God’s hands and find the peace and joy that comes from knowing that.
Austin is a gift to our family, and I wouldn’t change a thing about my incredible little boy.