Sunday, November 06, 2011
telling people "my son max, he has autism".
At least once a week I find myself in a situation where I have to tell someone that "my son Max has autism". I used to dread it, the looks of pity, awkward break in conversation, and sudden inability to meet my gaze. I hated having people feeling sorry for me or telling me things like "God doesn't give you more than you can handle". Uh, yeah, sure...I don't think I "handled" it too well at 3am this morning when Max decided it was time to start the day, but whatever.
These days, when I tell someone about Max, I say it in a very matter of fact manner. I also make sure to say that he's attending senior kindergarten, is in therapy seven days a week, and is incredibly intelligent. I have no idea if someone is feeling sorry for me, but I don't really care. What I hope they take away from learning about Max is that autism is not hopeless. It's really hard, and a lot of the time it sucks big donkey bollocks, but the rewarding moments part the clouds and kiss you with a million rays of perfect sunlight. The steps forward are like winning an Olympic medal. We drink a lot of champagne.
Having a child with autism has changed me profoundly. What I value in people has changed. I have chosen my family over my career – I have changed professions, taken a pay cut, and now work from home. What stresses me out has changed. How I define a "good" day has changed. And I only cry when I'm happy, and even then I don't really cry, but tear up.
My son Max, he has autism. And he has the same potential your kid has, except he's a better reader than your kid, and better looking too. (Oops, did I say that out loud?) You don't need to feel sorry for him, or me. But some kindness and support would be wonderful.