My 8 year old has classic autism. I'm going through it all again with my 2 year old son. No part of the journey is the same. Not because my kids are different (which they are), but because I am different. I now have an experienced eye, a patient heart, a whole cache of weapons in my arsenal, aka therapy, and the terms and lingo are part of my common vocabulary. I am equipped.
InInstead of being befuddled by behaviors, I am prepared. It's like a checklist in my mind: Spinning, check. Tapping, check. No eye contact, check. Non-verbal, check. Anti-social, check. Lining up toys, check. Obsessive behaviors, check. It's like an old song, I remember all the words.
Even so, it's a little breathtaking to see my son's behaviors take shape in public. Yesterday for instance, we went to a Discovery Center in our city. It's a magical play-place filled with pretend, science, engineering, art; it's a perfect blend of learning and amusement.
Izaiah instinctively made a bee-line for a toy that conveniently fit his perseveration. I guess you could call it a toy - it was a 2ft x 2ft inclined soft ramp.
He enjoys walking and finding uneven surfaces. He walks them over and over again as if to memorize the uneven parts. Sometimes, for closer inspection, he gets down on his tummy. If it's a serious matter, he gently feels them with his face. It could be linoleum in the kitchen, concrete outside, or a jungle gym at the park; if there are uneven surfaces, he's going to find them!
He does not enjoy other children in his space. His work is very serious. There happened to be an unsuspecting toddler in his way. What I thought was going to be a gentle hug turned out to be a calculated shove out of the way! Oh, boy! I was not prepared for that! I apologized profusely to the child's mommy and stepped up my guard.
As I nursed him under a blanket ( his safe place), I smiled replaying the song (events) in my head. I know all the verses and the chorus by heart. My eyes followed and adored my 8 year old busily exploring, learning, socializing, pretending, discovering. I laughed to myself recalling how she used to act just like my 2 year old, even worse! I held my son close and basked in our time together. Yes, I know what's going on. Yes, I know all the hard work ahead; I understand the challenges. The difference is that the worry is gone. Confidence, hope, and victory have filled it's place.
Isaiah 40:31 says, "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Instead of holding on to worry that leads us into despair, trust in the Lord. Believe in His plans and His purpose for you and your kids. The worry comes from fear of the unknown, but nothing is unknown to Him. Surround yourself with like-minded people who share your positive outlook. Release the people who drag you down, refuse to understand, or who only want to be angry. By focusing on Him instead of our worries, we will not be burdened with worries and fears, we will move forward victoriously with wings like eagles and so will our kids!
Annie Eskeldson writes for parents of very young autists. She has 3 published children's books about autism that also nurture parents. Check them out at http://www.authorannie.com Annie will be speaking at a Homeschooling Convention in Kansas City, April 2012. For more tips and ideas about autism visit http://www.ashisgift.blogspot.com