Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Autism: To Tell Or Not To Tell.....I TOLD...How It Helped..

Good morning friends, 

So clearly I jam more than crafts into my blog and as my life
evolves I definitely am not shy about speaking about it. 
Today I get to talk about my beautiful Autistic son and my decision 
to tell him that he has Autism.

Now I know this might be highly controversial but in the end I believe that
it is a personal choice and my choice might not work for you or your
child, or it might, who knows? I am no expert, I am chopping down
the jungle one branch at a time just like you! 

So this is how I came to my decision:
I watched this video....
and I cried...then I watched it again. 
I LOVE how frank and completely intelligent the mom is and how her son
responds in an incredible way. I highly recommend you watch and share. 

Anyways back to our story...after watching it made me realize
that I needed to decide whether I was going to tell Gage he had Autism
or not. Which worried me because I did not want him to use it as a crutch
in life saying "well I can't because I have Autism" or what not. 
I often hear kids who know they have ADD or other problems say 
"well I can't help it I have..." which is fine but it's not always a good excuse
for poor behaviour. I definitely did NOT want Gage to say 
"I melt down because I have Autism" because even with Autism I still
believe and expect him to try his best and learn to control himself to the 
best of his ability. 

So I went back and forth for 3 days on this subject in my head. 
Ways I would tell him, ways I would hide it. Is he old enough?
Will he be upset?
Will it change anything? 

I kept researching.....

After 3 days of back and forth I decided that I would tell him. 
Because I remember him coming to me after a baseball game last year,
he was crying and he told me very specifically this:

"Momma, I want you to take me off the ball team. I am DRAGGING them down
because I am no good. I am a bad player, I am nothing like Jaxon or
the other boys. I can't do what they do. BUT I want them to win! 
so please take me off the team so I don't drag them down. I suck,
I totally suck"

of course at the time we did not have an Autism diagnosis that would explain 
his poor fine motor skills, we did not know how much anxiety he had
due to Autism, we had no idea the problems were due to a legitimate
problem, we just knew he struggled and bless his heart I loved that child
all the same, I would do anything to keep him from feeling that way. 

That thought kept coming back to me, call it intuition, call it God, 
call it a Higher Power, I don't care what you call it, it kept creeping
back into my head. 

So the next day I sat him down and we ate dinner and I said 
"Baby, do you know what Autism is??"

Him: "No what is it?"

Me: "It's a disorder that makes people think and feel differently"

Him: "Like a dog thinks?"

Me: "No like a human, but a VERY smart human, 
who is so smart in so many ways but in some areas it is 
difficult to communicate and be around other people.
It makes it hard for people to be friends and it makes it hard to focus
on one thing at a time, so many thoughts all at once all the time.
You have Autism"

Him: "Me? so I am super smart??"

Me: "Of course you are! But it also might make it hard for you
to do certain things, things that require your hands. Like buttons..."

Him: "Hey I can't button things"

Me: "I know- buttons, tying shoes, catching balls, things like that"

Him: "So I am not stupid because I can't tie my shoes?"

Me: "No you are so very smart!"

Him: "But I am almost 10 and I can't tie my shoes, that makes me stupid."

Me: "No it is the Autism, it's just part of it."

Him: "I am not stupid! I can't tie my shoes because of Autism, 
not because I am stupid! But I can learn because Autism isn't bad it's just different"

The relief in his mind made it all worth it. 
I feel he finally realized that he wasn't stupid or dumb, he was just 
Gage and it was OK! It was almost as if relief washed over him. 

My focus now is letting him understand that Autism is not bad
or ruining his life- but simply changing it. So for now, for us
it works. For him it was a relief and for me it was a break through.
I never realized the IMMENSE amount of guilt he felt
over the smallest things in life. 
Tying shoes,
buttons, baseball, sports, and so much more. 
I guess now it's my job to continue to let him know how amazing he
is to feed his passions and push him forward without the burden or 
feeling stupid or lacking. 

Thanks to Story Corps for the video...one step closer and one step forward!
Have a great Tuesday my friends. 

1 comment:

Janis said...

That is beautiful. TFS.
<3 J

jwoolbright at gmail dot com