Sometimes the reality of living with children who are on the autism spectrum can be hard. I caught myself the other day watching the four of them play and imagining what their futures may hold. And then I caught myself, because I was envisioning a future for four neurotypical children. And two of my children are not neurotypical. For just one moment I felt like I'd been punched in the guts, such was my shock. It catches me unawares now and again. My little mate is just my son, I forget who he is to the rest of the world.
But then, I took a moment to look at them. Really look at them. And I did not see a child with autism, a child with Aspergers and two neurotypical girls. I saw the gift of my children.
Little Miss Thing simply dotes on her siblings. She chases them around calling out to them, desperate to keep up. She adores our Little Mate. If he is lying on the ground she will creep up and cover him with baby kisses. She is one of very few who he will allow to touch his face and head in that way. If he sits on one of the kid couches she will plonk herself next to him, almost on top of him, and they will giggle like mad. This girl will grow up understanding that her brother is different, that both of them are. She will also grow up knowing that they are her brothers who love her. Her gift will be compassion and sympathy, the gift that autism gives her.
My Little Mate has the most infectious laugh. He smiles readily and is affectionate and loving with his siblings and with us. He can count up to 100 and recognise numbers that no other child his age that I know of can. He loves to watch how things work. The washing machine, the dryer, the dishwasher... they are fascinating to him. When he wants to do something he will stick with it until it is done. And while I cannot know for sure that he would not have had these traits regardless, I suspect this is the gift autism has given him.
My Big Girl fights endlessly with her big brother. They are like cats and dogs. And yet, they are so protective of each other. She has such a loving heart. On the odd occasion she has been present when someone has commented on Little Mate's behaviour, she looks at them like they are a bit daft and says 'but he has autism.' Just like that. Matter of fact and no emotion involved, other than that she loves her brother and doesn't understand why anyone else wouldn't. She will grow up with an understanding of difference that many other children will not, and it will serve her well. She is accepting and kind. This is the gift autism gives her.
My Big Boy has many challenges in his life. He has a quick temper that he finds hard to recover from. But he also has so much love in his heart. He is loyal to a fault, a friend is a BEST friend for life. Even though he finds it difficult being the eldest he is so protective of his younger brother and sisters. He is proud of them. And I am proud of him. He is tactile and artistic. He is highly physically skilled and can do things that make my heart leap into my mouth. His logic and problem solving skills are impressive, and while this may have been the case anyway, I believe this is part of the gift autism has given him.
And me? I am blessed with four amazing children. The diagnoses of two of them have opened up new paths of communication and given me ways to understand them better. To support them and help them be whoever they want to be. And this is the gift that autism has given me. The gift of understanding.
This Autism Positivity Flash Blog Event is the brainchild of Thinking About Perspectives, a group of bloggers committed to increasing autism awareness and acceptance via open and respectful dialogue. We are: 30 Days of Autism, Outrunning the Storm, The Third Glance, Aspie Kid, Flappiness Is, Quirky and Laughing, Life on the Spectrum, Fairy Tale Forgotten, The Aspie Side of Life, and Inner Aspie.