A good friend of mine from growing up, that I haven’t seen in years, recently reached out to me and shared that her son had some similar behaviors to Wilson, and that they had just confirmed that he was on the autism spectrum. My first reaction was the urge to reach through the computer and hug her.
There is a connection among parents of children with autism like nothing I’ve experienced before. Autism is such a broad spectrum and it seems as though there is nothing black and white about it. Because of this, what our children are experiencing cannot be easily explained. What WE as parents are going through cannot be easily explained. It can be very lonely and isolating. So sometimes, when you meet another parent with a child on the spectrum, there is comfort and connection in knowing that they just get it.
I thought about my friend and her son. What they had been through and what they were about to embark on. This made me reflect on Wilson’s journey in autism, and how it’s like climbing a mountain. More like climbing mountains. In the beginning of this autism climb, I was focused on reaching the top, seeing that green grass on the other side, and putting all the struggle behind us. I know now that isn’t what my boy’s journey is about. The climb is hard. Sometimes grueling. There are peaks, and there are falls into deep valleys. But we are going to keep climbing, no matter what.
I wanted to tell my friend that it was all going to be okay, that we had “reached the other side” so-to-speak, and just how amazing it will be once she and her son arrive there too. But I couldn’t. What I can do is take her hand and help her make those first few steps.
While the daily climb is hard, if you stop, look around and celebrate even the baby steps, it really can be quite beautiful.
I’ve started this blog to keep everyone updated on Wilson’s progress and with the dream that it can be one small piece in helping to spread autism awareness around the world. At times it feels as though there is little I can control about my son’s autism, but there is plenty I can teach others about it to help him feel more understood. The more autism awareness there is in this world, the easier it might be for my little boy to navigate through it.
Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
…But I can make an explosion
~ “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten
While I plan to share a lot about Wilson’s goals and treatment, this is in no way to serve as medical advice for others and their children. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to autism, so I do not intend for others to read our approach as the “right” way. There is no right way. We are trying, progressing, sometimes failing and getting up to try again.
About our little Climber!
We have found, not surprisingly, that it’s incredibly hard to sit across from other people and hear about your child’s challenges, delays, struggles, bad behaviors and “issues”. To have his every move watched, evaluated, scored and judged. It’s been busy, but not all bad. We’ve had so many wonderful people teaching us, offering support, praying for us and loving our little man and for that, we are so grateful.
Now, it’s time we talk about this boy’s amazing strengths and the beautiful qualities that make him Wilson. Wilson is unique. Not just compared to “typical” children, but compared to other children with ASD as well. Near the beginning of this journey, my friend Brita shared a quote with me that I continually find myself returning to: “If you have met one person with autism, then you have met one person with autism.”
Wilson’s PERSEVERENCE is truly admirable. If he wants something, he is going to figure out a way to get it! This attribute can be a little challenging for us during these toddler years, but I am sure it will serve him well later on in life. He is a PROBLEM SOLVER; if he can’t reach it, he’ll find something to climb on so he can. Even when he struggles to “find” his words, he continues to TRY until he can get his needs across. His MEMORY is incredible. This helps him excel with puzzles, numbers, songs and remembering where we hide things from him. While he tends to be very ENERGETIC, he can also FOCUS intensely on things that really interest him. He is great at building towers, helicopters, trucks and trains with either his magnetic tiles or Legos. He is CURIOUS. He LEARNS how things work, takes them apart, and puts them back together.
This kid is a MOVER! He loves to run, jump, bounce, spin, slide, climb, dance and swing. He loves being chased by his sister and his friends. He is EXCITED to go places and is usually running, not walking, to get there. He is a COLLECTOR and has mastered carrying multiple objects, toys, juice boxes and snacks all at one time. Wilson lights up when MUSIC plays; he loves songs and instruments and imitating new dance moves that his dad teaches him.
Wilson is GENTLE and SWEET. When he is very upset, even if I am the cause, he will usually take me up on my offer for a hug. He loves to be held tight and cuddled. He FORGIVES and he LOVES. My friend Erin put it so sweetly, “He isn’t ordinary. He is EXTRAORDINARY”.