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For the First Time

For the first time today I told Blake in the car, “You are so difficult, sometimes.”

These are usually things and thoughts I reserve for myself, or conversations that Michael and I have privately. They are never things that I say to Blake. Around him I try to be as patient as I can. Understanding. Kind. Loving. Thoughtful. A disciplinary when I need to be (though, admittedly, Michael is better at that than I am.)

B attends counseling once a week. It was every other week but we needed to increase it. The older he gets the more his ASD symptoms are showing. I was told this would happen.

On our most recent visit the counselor told me that physically he is a 7 year old boy who is operating intellectually around a 10 year old boy, but socially, emotionally, and maturely he is operating around 3 to 4 years old.

These disparities in age create the perfect recipe for autism (Asperger’s), if you were ever one to doubt.

We are honestly going through a rough season at the moment.

B continues to inspire me with his daily actions, and there are so many breakthroughs that we have, but there are also so many setbacks. So many inconsistencies. Our days consist of so much repetition. Just when I think he’s got the routine down, the socialization down, we suddenly have to start over.

Last night he had a meltdown because his teacher uses a “star” symbol to both indicate a “perfect” score at the top of a paper, AND a “star” over a particular number on an assignment when they get it wrong (instead of an X). The fact that both things included a STAR really upset him, and he didn’t understand why we needed to fix the #4 on his Math page that had a star on it. Because, to him, a star at the top of the page meant all the work was perfect. It took a long time for me to explain that she didn’t want to mark an X because she was giving him an opportunity to fix his mistake. He cried saying it wasn’t fair and she needed to use a different symbol.

This happens a lot.

I sat in his counselor’s office last week and almost broke down in tears.

“Please. Either tell me I’m crazy, or confirm for me that my kid isn’t like the rest of them.”

“Do you ever wish for him to be ‘normal?'”, she asked me.

“Honestly?”, I replied. “No. I like that he is his own person. But, sometimes it gets exhausting having to re-explain myself, go over the same routines, answer the same mundane questions, review the same social situations, have the same conversations about what to do and what not to do, explain the proper way to greet someone. Sometimes I’d just love for him to initiate polite conversations instead of immediately complaining and pinpointing exactly what’s WRONG with a situation, instead of seeing any sort of positive. Sometimes I’d just like to have a normal conversation with him. But, I also love the person he is. But, I’m tired.”

“You’re a mom of an autistic child”, she said.

I sighed.

I sighed because it IS exhausting.

And I sighed out of relief, because I needed that reassurance. I needed someone to say it out loud. My child is autistic. No, I’m not crazy. Yes, this is my life. Yes, this is my child. Yes, it’s hard.

Yes.

It’s hard.

Teachers. Fellow autism parents. Anyone.

Please talk to me. I’d love to help others provide some perspective.

And, maybe, in the process you’ll help me, too.

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