“The Autism Spectrum is just a trend, people are just looking for a label.”
“A lot of boys are energetic, he just needs more discipline.”
“He’s great when he’s with me, I think you’re just overreacting.”
On good days, I wonder these exact same things.
Maybe big pharma is just trying to make money so I’ve been scared into thinking my son needs help? Maybe he’s just being a 7 year old boy? Maybe it’s me, maybe I’m seeing things that just aren’t there?
Then we have a bad day. It is then that I am reminded that I am my sons only mom and it is up to me to care for him in the best way possible.
The Autism Spectrum is real. While science hasn’t figured out why some kids brains don’t organize correctly, science has figured out that kids on this spectrum aren’t “normal” in their brain organization. So we don’t know why spectrum disorders occur but they do. We can’t deny the existence of Autism Spectrum Disorder just because we can’t explain its origin.
And sure, there are fear mongers in the Autism Spectrum conversation who do try and push products or therapies or cures. As a parent it is my job to wade through what is actual help and what is marketing. It’s not an easy task!
Boys are energetic! Even our 7.5 month old son is more energetic than our girls were at that age. I think that boy energy is priceless and we should channel it well! However, when it comes to our son we have more than an energy issue. For most kids on the spectrum it is the combination of “more” that puts them on the spectrum. For our son he does have more energy than the average boy but he also has more anxiety, more anger, more attention deficit, more violence, more appetite, more social issues and more frustration than the average boy his age. One or two of these things would make him “normal” but all of them together, well, that’s why he’s on the spectrum.
Yes, he can be a model student, encouraging youth group kid and fun nephew/cousin/grandchild. However, those are limited and structured interactions. In almost all those scenarios our son is doing things he enjoys with people who can give him undivided attention. As all parents know, that’s just not realistic when it comes to day to day activities. I have a husband who travels for work, 3 other kids in addition to my son and the day to day tasks of running a home and a small business. While I want to parent my son well, he can not be the constant center of attention in our home. So yes, I have no doubt he has been great for you, and I am so glad, I want his friends and family to see his good side. Just remember that you haven’t asked him to do hard things like dress himself, complete his handwriting homework or share with his siblings. Those every day moments, surrounded by a family who loves unconditionally, that’s where both brokenness, struggle and hopefully healing happen.
To those parents who are struggling with difficult children, remember that loving them is the first and best thing you can do. Love speaks in a way that therapy never will. I also want to encourage you, it is okay. It is okay to have your child evaluated and be told they are normal and just going through a phase. It is also entirely okay to have your child evaluated to find they need some additional help. Either way, you’ve done your part, you have advocated with your whole heart for the well being of your child.
For the doubters, it is okay to doubt. I’ve been through this process and I still doubt on some days. Be wise, your doubt does not give you a platform to be unloving or unkind. Doubt away, but love well.
For the parents and friends and family of a child on the spectrum, be encouraged. You are not alone on this journey. If there’s anything I have learned in the last 21 days it’s that more families are silently walking this road of spectrum disorders than I ever thought possible. Keep up this hard work of leading and loving and supporting. Your sacrificial act of love in walking with this child could be the catalyst that molds them into the amazing person they were meant to be.
“Hope and Sorrow in it all there’s rescue and there’s not.”
There’s Rescue: Instead of being discouraged by doubt, we’ve been motivated to learn, move forward and make hard decisions.
There’s Not: There are days when I wonder if we are doing the right thing. I have to trust that we are doing the best we can.
Today I am thankful for all the positive small steps we have made and all the small steps to come.