After a week-long struggle to find an interesting topic to blog about, I decided to just let that topic come to me when it felt like it. I never imagined I’d have the guts to write about my son’s ASD, like, today, when I could barely drag my zombie-like self to the laptop. Ah well, my need to write always wins over my need to rest. So I’ll succumb to my muse’s will in hope that this wave of bravery would somehow bring comfort to my mind and body.
I’ve meant to write about it sooner. I’ve actually started this blog with an intention of spreading autism awareness but the only thing that has ever stopped me was fear. It’s not as much fear of people’s reactions (especially uninformed family and friends who might stumble upon this post) as it is fear of my own son’s reactions. I have this magnanimous concern that my son would disapprove of my talking or writing about his condition once he’d realize it. I mean I can understand if he already disapproves of all the trips to specialists, therapists, and special educators that never seem to end. I’m not worried about the “autism” label, to me it’s not stigmatic, I’m worried about the little labeled guy who’s almost 7. And let’s suppose he didn’t mind me writing about the challenges, blessings and everything in between, would he want people to identify him as the “kid with major tantrums ’cause he’s got autism”? Would he want to be referred to somewhere along the way as “the socially awkward guy in high school who happens to have Asperger’s”?
I know there is so much I can do for him right now to make this world around him more friendly and less of a pain. I am trying my very best to help him cope with difficulties, avoid triggers and develop more socially-acceptable ways to express his frustrations (which are countless). And I also know that, for the sake of developing his problem-solving skills, I can’t make the world stop turning so he’d catch up. I can’t make his friends tolerate his fiery temperament if their teachers or parents don’t know why my son can be aggressive, obsessive, possessive, and opposing and explain this to their kids once they’re ready. My son might not be aware that he’s different at his age. He may not know why he can’t keep himself out of trouble at school or home. He is aware, however, that his behavior is so disruptive it has taken around 20 experts in the field to either diagnose his condition, assess his skills and cognitive abilities, or start him on an intervention plan. He is very much aware that there are days when I can’t be strong for all of us.
Fortunately, more awareness is being raised in the media. People now understand that autism is not debilitating and many autistic people grow up to be successful fully-functioning adults. Some are even gifted, while some are just not. There’s always hope. And if there is anything I want my son to learn about his condition it is that there’s always this hope of him becoming a car racer who builds his own cars that he wants to be, if God wills. There is always hope that we’ll make it through these trying phases in our family life. All we need is that little glimmer of hope to survive the strains and celebrate the milestones, however late we achieve them.
I must admit that I have had so many doubts before. I have had my good share of questioning. The journey to diagnosis was long, but that to acceptance was even longer. There were many days when I’ve wondered if I’d ever make it, whether all this trouble was worth it, and whether this will all go away if I learn “the lesson”. I’ve tormented myself with the most destructive thoughts one could think of. Come to think of it, that was all a part of a plan, leading me here. To this moment of truth, where I’m sitting in front of this screen before me pouring out my heart to a vast unknown blogosphere. Many friends tell me they enjoy my writings as they come straight from the heart. I don’t think anything I’ve written to this day could reflect my heart’s deepest, most intense, and most-masked emotions quite like this post. I owe this to my sweet “Angry Bird”. He has given me the strength to advocate for him, stand up for him and fight for a cause. He has given my pen a daily prompt.
Parenting a child on the spectrum is a challenge. Parenting any child is a challenge. Period. I’m certain, however, that one day my boy will look back and be grateful for all the events that led up to him having such a unique personality; Quirky, goofy, dynamic, loving, honest, goal-oriented, strong-willed, persistent, a true leader. Everything that he is right now, when we move the magnifier away from the shortcomings.
Perhaps he won’t be upset if I say he’s the most special kid I’ve seen. It’s special kids like him that percipitate this surge of hope in all mothers’ hearts. A hope so grand, so powerful it’s worth spreading and sharing with the entire world, and beyond.