My Imaginary Talk About Autism
My son, B, was diagnosed with PDD-NOS in June 2010. He was 2 1/2. Now, he's almost 5 and we have made remarkable progress through the help of many different strategies. It hasn't been easy, not by a long shot. But I haven't had "the talk" with him yet. Mainly, I still think he is unable to process such information. But, when I do talk to B about autism, I really hope it goes something like this: My dear, sweet B, come here my boy. Let's have a chat, shall we? Now that you are a little bit older, and in school, you might be noticing new things. Some are really cool. But there are some new things, and I bet you are having some trouble making sense of it all. I just want to tell you that it's not "all in your head" or that you are imagining things. You have a disability called autism. What's Au-ti-sm, you ask? Well, Autism is really hard to explain. It's not a disease, first of all. And you're not gonna pass it onto to someone else like a cold. And it's definitely not "cooties" which I'm sure someone will tell you. I like to say that you are just wired differently. Your brain processes things a bit differently from other kids. Some things are harder for you than other kids. It's not "bad", but it's the way it is. Autism is like a rainbow. And on this rainbow, there are lots of people that have different characteristics of Autism. No one person with autism is like another person with autism. Many of your buddies are somewhere on the spectrum. Yes, really. Some people with Autism are famous, and some are not. Some have phenomenal talents, and some do not. There are doctors, lawyers, artists, musicians...Autism is not choosy. Again, Autism is not a bad thing. But I am going to tell you now - you will have bad days. Not just typical bad days. Days when the lights are too bright or he noises are too loud. Days when your schedule gets "off" and everything will be thrown out of whack. Or when you can't say the right things to your friends, getting more and more frustrated. You will get mad. You will want to whip your arms around in aggravation because something is not going "just right". You may want to lash out at a teacher that is trying to help you refocus on what you are supposed to be doing. Just know that when that happens it is OK to take a break. Get away from the "bad stuff" and take your deep breaths. Remember "Bubbles and Hands" when you were little? Well, you can always use that too. Autism encompasses all these things I just told you about. And that's why we try to work with it, try to outwit it. That's why we have a bunch of people to help us understand what's going on. How using music helps you calm down. How we tell stories to show how to act with your friends. How we try new strategies to help you figure how to manage. I will always try to explain what's going on. I will help you try to understand and how to deal with the things that come your way. You, though, have to help me - stop me when something is too much. Tell me to explain why something is the way it is. I will try hard to answer, but I don't have all the answers. Autism makes you different. But THAT is what makes you unique, B. That is what makes you YOU. A kind, caring, boy that wants to lend a hand every chance he gets. The boy that would do anything for his baby sister, including sharing his bus collection. The boy that is so smart, that you will try to outsmart me at every turn. There is nothing WRONG with you. Just, well, a little different. Don't EVER forget that. And NEVER forget that I love you very much.