Originally published at Life With A Mental Illness: Kids and Adults
I have a 6 year old son named Noah. He was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 4. He is moderate to severe. He is verbal but has limited communication. He also has severe sensory issues along with moderate hypotonia (low muscle tone).
Every time we go to the grocery store, he must have a yogurt or gatorade. We hand it to him, he hugs me and tells me I am "best mommy ever". It doesn't matter if he was having a meltdown a moment before - in that fleeting moment, I just hung the moon. ---- This is autism.
On Christmas morning while my other neurotypical children are ravaging their endless presents, Noah barely opens 2 and is so thrilled and thankful for the 2 he got, he forgets about the other 12 that's sitting there unwrapped. --- This is autism.
It took us years to get Noah to understand manners. He uses every polite word he can even when it's not appropriate. He will tell you 'thank you' when you bump into him sometimes not realizing it's not in appropriate context. But he is proud of himself no matter how 'right' it sounds to everyone else. ----This is autism.
He can't recite the alphabet but can tell you every character and their life role in every super hero show or movie that has ever existed. ---- This is autism.
He can't ride a bike but he can put together a 500-piece puzzle by himself. ---- This is autism.
Noah doesn't understand human emotion and he has limited memory yet will apologize for something he did for weeks straight. ---- This is autism.
You see, there's nothing wrong with the intention of your blog. You are right, us as parents of autistic children sometimes do struggle. I can't tell you the amount of hours and copay spent in a months time. Or the times that I do go for a walk just to regain my sanity. But that moment when I walk in and he's reciting the letters of my keyboard to himself or he tells me 1+1=2 or when he says "I want milk because I am thirsty." is worth it all. We need better services for them YES... we don't need their own city and it's not a national emergency. My son is not severely ill. Actually he hardly ever goes to his PCP for any medical reasons other than to get referrals for his autistic services.
You don't have 3 million children missing. They are real and here... you just aren't listening. Being married with a special needs child is hard but my husband and I have made the choice that we will do it together. If we split, it will have nothing to do with Noah and everything to do with us as a marital couple. I do live moment to moment because I never know what will come next with any of my children. Tomorrow is not guaranteed but right now is. Everything you described was any family with any kind of issue. Life isn't perfect and if I could redo it all... I would do everything exactly the same!
My child lives, we live ... I think you're the one that's merely 'existing'. My son can use the bathroom by himself, eat by himself, and even dress himself. Does he do any of this as well as a typical child his age? Of course not! But you are limiting on what they are capable of because they are capable of so much. I have yet to meet an autistic child who can't feed himself over the age of 4, they aren't physically disabled. I think you're confused on what autism really means.