Hi, This is Autism.

A long time ago, back when Ro first got his diagnosis, I almost made matching shirts for us both, emblazoned with that bold statement.

Yes, this is me going back to the same old argument about labels, but I have new thoughts almost every day on this subject, so I must shaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeee with you! lol

Last week, one of my big sisters, The Tray, who just happens to have a 12 year-old daughter who is diagnosed “aspergers” was chatting with a fellow school parent about mundane kid issues.  

The Tray mentioned something about my niece’s aspergers, to which the parent replied, “AUTISM!!!  I didn’t know she had AUTISM???  Why didn’t you ever tell us??!!!!”

The Tray, being The Tray, replied, “Well, I haven’t needed to tell you about her diagnosis thus far…would you like me to tell you her bra size, because that’s pretty much equal information divulging???!!” 

Okay, maybe it didn’t go down like that verbatim, but knowing The Tray, that’s how I imagine it, and I bet it’s pretty close.

Anyaut, this brings me back to my constant contemplation of label etiquette. 

I don’t introduce my son as, “Hi, this is Ronan.  He’s six, and he has AUTISM!!!  AUTISM!!!  AUTISM!!!

Why does Mama need to share that on the first date?  It’s not like you will need a HAZMAT team to come and diffuse him!  I can see my need for divulging diagnoses if you are a therapist that needs to work with him, or if he does something inappropriate socially that may make someone offended. 

But really, do I need to announce this upon meeting new people every time?  Why not say, “This is Ronan, his IQ is over  140 and he can recite all the states and capitals in 40 seconds or less!”  Or why not share, “This is Ro, and he hates helicopters, but he can add and subtract far beyond his years!  Isn’t that special?!”

 It’s a tough road to navigate. 

I was talking to a mother last week who has a child that goes to school with mine, and she just couldn’t get past how he seemed “different” from all of the other kids his age.  She was just so embarrassed by all of his behaviors, and she had such a hard time with his uniqueness. 

Look, I don’t want my kid to misread “social cues”, in fact, he’s taking special courses and incorporating “social education” into his therapy schedule every day, but what I don’t want, what I worry about sacrificing, is his individuality – his strengths, his admirable qualities – his fabulousness…

Does that, should that,  need to be sacrificed with the “autism” label?

To that Mom that worries about her boy being so “different” –  will your child resent you for really wishing he fit into a round peg when he is square all along???

I thought her child was lovely.

I think my child is lovely.

I think my niece is lovely.

Sometimes, even though I know he needs to learn a different way, even though I know it carries pain, I think AUTISM is lovely.

I don’ t love that he has hurt… what Mama does?  But I love my child with AUTISM.  

Label or not. 

That means nothing.

And he means everything.

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kids with autism are “mental”?

Somebody actually said this to me the other day.  I used to care what other people thought, and in the past, I would have slapped that bitch down (well, verbally at least – Mami no likey the violence) and then I realized that this volcanic reaction was just my own mourning of this “imagined” child rearing its ugly head.  Those were my insecurities, and they only got in the way of my seeing Ronan for Ronan, and not for who I thought he would/should be. 

Also, I’m getting hip to the realization that people really just don’t get your situation, or understand your child, unless they are, well, essentially – you!  So, being that I’m the only me, and Ro is the only Ro, why bother slapping at ignorant bitches?  Now, I may offer up an informative counter-fact to a ridiculous bitch’s misconception about autism, but it’s a very liberating acceptance, this knowing that I don’t have to school everyone about Ro’s talents, gifts, beauty, intelligence, uniquity and great big heart.  I know – he knows. I wish I was Ro, seriously! 

He’s right behind me now, bouncing on his therapy ball, doing what they call “verbal stimming”.  He’s listing animals, changing the voices for each one – (high pitched) DOLPHIN, (growling) BIG LION!, (whispering) meow, meow cat.

stim…

It’s music to me.

Anyway, here’s a poem for the bitches.  A little verbal slap.

The Misunderstood Child
A poem about children with hidden disabilities

by Kathy Winters

I am the child that looks healthy and fine.
I was born with ten fingers and toes.
But something is different, somewhere in my mind,
And what it is, nobody knows.

I am the child that struggles in school,
Though they say that I’m perfectly smart.
They tell me I’m lazy — can learn if I try —
But I don’t seem to know where to start.

I am the child that won’t wear the clothes
Which hurt me or bother my feet.
I dread sudden noises, can’t handle most smells,
And tastes — there are few foods I’ll eat.

I am the child that can’t catch the ball
And runs with an awkward gait.
I am the one chosen last on the team
And I cringe as I stand there and wait.

I am the child with whom no one will play —
The one that gets bullied and teased.
I try to fit in and I want to be liked,
But nothing I do seems to please.

I am the child that tantrums and freaks
Over things that seem petty and trite.
You’ll never know how I panic inside,
When I’m lost in my anger and fright.

I am the child that fidgets and squirms
Though I’m told to sit still and be good.
Do you think that I choose to be out of control?
Don’t you know that I would if I could?

I am the child with the broken heart
Though I act like I don’t really care.
Perhaps there’s a reason God made me this way —
Some message he sent me to share.

For I am the child that needs to be loved
And accepted and valued too.
I am the child that is misunderstood.
I am different – but look just like you.

 

Sorry, I’m getting my period.  I think I’m a little hormonal.   Last night at work, I snuggled with a huge chenille chocolate brown men’s bathrobe (I’m doing overnights at Target – putting out merchandise) for twenty straight minutes, calling him my new boyfriend.  It’s sad.

bitch_slap

Of course, I don’t avocate slapping a woman, but this made me pee a little with laughter.  I like imagining myself as the “take that, bitch” man slapper.  Okay, so maybe I’m not exactly liberated from the volcanic reaction to dumb beyotch comments.  I’m trying.