Other Worlds

Go then, there are other worlds than these.

 – The Gunslinger, Stephen King

Sometimes I need to get away.  And I’m not talking about a kid-free vacation or a girls’ night out or even a regular date night with my husband. Don’t get me wrong, all of those are welcomed (and awesome). But sometimes, I need to go live in a completely different world for awhile. Preferably one in which I am only a spectator, watching someone else battle demons or defeat vampires or confront those monsters who do indeed live under the bed.

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Magical Moments

Sometimes we need a little magic. A couple months ago, I entered my son in a Good Morning America contest. They wanted to reward three inspirational people (described in 200 “heartfelt” words) with a fabulous Disneyland or DisneyWorld vacation. The entries also needed to speak to the power of “creating memories” to tie in with Disney’s “Memory Makers” campaign.

I didn’t win that magical vacation for my child – and who am I kidding….if he had a chance to stay even one night at the Magic Kingdom’s Cinderella Castle Suite, do you think I would ever get him to come home??? But, the three inspiring people who did win each made a huge difference in someone else’s life, and I’m glad they were recognized. Plus, the contest entry gave me a chance to describe how my son has truly inspired me and changed my life. Read More

Talking to the Other Eighty-Seven

The latest CDC report says that autism now affects 1 in 88 children in the United States. My kiddo resides firmly on the “one” side of that equation. His quirkiness is clearly visible to anyone who spends more than a few seconds in his company. So, especially when it comes to school, I believe that talking about my son with the other eighty-seven is one of the most important jobs I have as his parent. Read More

Awareness

April is Autism Awareness Month. It’s that lovely time of year when I get reminded how terrible my son’s life will be without all the adequate supports, therapeutic breakthroughs and medical miracles that money can buy; when many well-meaning people send out a barrage of depressing statistics and sad-yet-uplifting tales, designed to pull on the heartstrings of potential donors.

Let’s take this moment to look at the classic definition of autism from a slightly different angle:

My son suffers from “a qualitative impairment in social interaction.”

He displays a healthy disregard for social “norms.” At 12 years old, my kid has absolutely no problem getting in the middle of a giggling circle of 6th grade girls and busting a move at his school dances if he feels like it.

My son struggles with “qualitative impairments in communication.”

He can express himself quite clearly without saying a word. When he gains permission to put a favorite item in our grocery cart, my son literally dances down the store aisle. There may be no “words” that adequately express that kind of joy.

My son exhibits “restricted repetitive behaviors and inflexible adherence to routines.”

He could save your life. If you were to take a ride with him, you would find that everyone in the car must wear their seatbelts. He will repeatedly remind you until you comply. Absolutely no exceptions.

I understand why these kinds of “perks” are rarely featured in autism awareness campaigns and I do hope that April produces the massive infusion of funds that we need for autism research, treatment, and services. If those depressing ads work to heighten awareness so that people of all abilities gain the support and equal opportunity necessary to lead healthy, productive, meaningful lives, that is a great thing.

In the meantime, I’ll focus on the fact that – as often as my son displays some of those devastating attributes that the awareness campaigns feel compelled to highlight – there are many things about our life with a child on the spectrum that I love, not in spite of his autism, but because of it.