Parenting My Autistic Child Has Made My Life Extra Lovely
My son Walker is autistic. He captured my heart when I saw him. I knew I would never be the same because of him. From the day he was born, I knew he was different from my first child. It was one of the very first things I said about him when people asked me what he was like.
For five and a half years, Walker has been dancing through his little corner of this spinning planet and hearing his very own tune. He’s not exactly like many other kids his age, but he is exactly who he is supposed to be.
When people think about raising an autistic child, the challenges come to mind.
Lots of people know next to nothing about autism other than what they saw on sensational television shows or exploitative blogs where parents set out their children’s most personal struggles to show how tough life with autism is for them. (Don’t let me begin)
As you raise a child who has additional needs or special considerations, you will become aware of how often your child is seen through the lens of their differences. This may be necessary because children with differences need different accommodations to be successful. But it can also be disappointing as a parent because people keep underestimating your child. It sometimes means they are “Walker with Autism” instead of just “Walker Rhys Cloyd, great kid”.
Living with a child that isn’t usually necessary brings various challenges, but it also brings beauty to your life in ways that people may not realize.
I can’t speak for all parents, but if you stay with me and keep reading, I’d like to share a few of the things that an autistic child made my life better – and I think my experience will be shared with other parents by children like mine Find approval.
We have so many additional reasons to celebrate.
Walker had to work very hard to learn to speak. When he was little we tried to explore other ways of communicating, but he didn’t. He didn’t want to use a book, tablet, sign language, or anything else we suggested. Walker wanted to talk. He has been in speech therapy for most of his life and now talks all day. On the way we celebrated with laughter, encouragement, cuddles, happy dances and even gifts and pizzas.
The story goes on
He is already experiencing small speech victories that give us reason to clap and cheer. He recently mastered the L sound and no longer replaced it with a W. He was so proud when he named our dog Clementine instead of “Cwementine” for the first time. He ran into my room and said, “I did it! I said Clllllemmie! “
All parents love celebrating their children’s victories, but when you have a kid who has to work SO hard, it’s kind of cuter.
Raising an autistic child has made me a more flexible parent.
Walker showed me that there are many ways to do things, and my path isn’t the only one. I wouldn’t say that I’m flexible by nature. I like things to be done quickly, efficiently, and in a way that makes sense to me. I like systems – as long as I can set them up myself.
Walker has none of this. This boy does things his way. He will comply with almost every request as long as I let him do it his way. He is not attached to rigid routines like some autistic children. He likes to change things. The consistent part is that he gets to do the plan.
It was an adjustment for me, but I’ve basically tossed all non-essential routines out the window. It made me a much more relaxed mom, and all of my three children benefit from it. If my child wants to bathe before dinner, who cares? If someone thinks seven in the morning is the right time for popcorn, why should I argue about it? I don’t mind if Walker sits five minutes longer in the car in the morning so he can buckle up his cuddly toys. He’s a security advocate, so I’ll just let it be.
Accepting his quirks is a given to us now and frankly, most of it is really cute. Have you ever looked back and seen Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy share a Graco booster? Adorable.
My child never lies – which I must admit is a double-edged sword.
I can always count on Walker to tell me he was the one who flushed the toy in the toilet, ate the last donut, or spilled his juice on the dog. (Poor Clemmie.) Walker will let you know if you have something between your teeth, an unsightly pimple, or if he heard you fart. Don’t ask him if you look pretty. He doesn’t know that he has to say yes.
We’re working on it. Ha.
But the best part about his radical honesty is that when Walker says he loves you, you know he means business. If he laughs at your joke, it’s because he was really tickled. If Walker climbs on my lap and asks why I have a sad face, it’s because he really cares what the answer is.
His doctors told me he might never understand how to read emotional clues on people’s faces or express empathy. Well, he may miss a few subtle expressions every now and then, but his empathy is endless and he can never fake his true, sincere desire to see the people he loves happy and safe.
My autistic child is wondering where most of us don’t.
Part of autism, for many people, is a difference in sensory perception. Walker’s keen senses can be difficult for him on July 4th, when fireworks are booming around our small country house or he has to walk from a dark cinema into bright sunlight.
But they can also be an asset to him.
He can sit cross-legged on the sidewalk for an hour and watch a line of ants climb over sticks and leaves in the flowerbed. When I ask him what he’s doing, he says: “Looking”. Search is enough for him. He notices things that I pass by. My son reminds me that life doesn’t have to be extravagant and exciting to be beautiful. You just have to be careful.
Raising a child is a combination of joy and difficulty, crowned with a heaping spoon of “it’s worth it”. If your child is different, the difficulty is different, but the joy? It’s worth it?”
These things are exactly the same – or maybe just a little bit cuter.
See the original article on ScaryMommy.com