Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Questions You Don't Think You Should Ask: Why Did You Get A Son With Autism?

Ouch!  Nobody is supposed to ask that.  But people have...and just that bluntly too.  It's not really that crazy of a question.  As humans, our first instinct when we see anything atypical is to ask "Why?".

The short answer is the scariest one.  Nothing.  I was twenty four when I had Isaac.  So was Sam.  I was and am healthy.  There had been no known instances of autism in either of our families.   I had great prenatal care and took prenatal vitamins (seriously someone asked me once if Isaac had autism because I did not take prenatal vitamins).  Pregnancy, labor, delivery...everything was pretty normal.  Sam and I met in college.  I had just finished graduate school when Isaac was born.  Sam and I are both reasonably intelligent...depending on the day and our caffeine intake.  I did not drink, use caffeine (ok...maybe a little chocolate ;)), or do drugs at any point during my pregnancy.  I nursed Isaac through his first year.  When he did start eating solids, Sam and I made up pureed vegetables and froze them into ice trays.  No processed food for our baby!  Education is my thing and I love early childhood too.  I engaged Isaac in play.  I sang him songs.  I read him books and books and books.  But the fact remains that Isaac has autism and cognitive delay and nice list of a few other diagnosis too.

That's part of what makes autism so scary, isn't it?  By the books, we did everything right.  We were not supposed to have a son with severe special needs.  But life happens and paths change.

Sometimes the most obvious question isn't the right question.  Many people a lot smarter than I am are delving into the issues of what may cause autism.

That's not a question I have time to wrestle with.  It's not my question as Isaac's mom.

My question is this:  What am I going to do with Isaac's autism?

How am I going to let Isaac's personhood shape me?  How am I going to cope day by day and moment by moment with the realities associated with Isaac's autism?

My answer:   I will live with Isaac's autism.   I will let my son shape me as I in turn shape him.  I will cope moment by moment.  I will live fully in each one.  I will celebrate the great moments and live through the challenging ones.  I will try to learn from those moments too...but first I will live through them.  I will seek help from God who made both Isaac and me and from the community that has gathered around us too.  I will live through this moment and then move on to the next.

I do want you to know something.   I, as a mother of a child with special needs, am not stronger or more saintly or more or less deserving of a child with special needs than anyone else is.  My only real qualification to be a parent of a child with special needs is that I am a parent of a child with special needs.  Autism hits everybody and is not shown to have much of a nationalistic, educational or socio-economic bias.  It is in many ways a great equalizer.  Isaac has autism and I am his mama.  That's it.

Parenting Isaac has taught me that I am stronger than I ever would dared to have hoped.  Isaac's autism continually sheds light on my greatness and my weakness.

How did I get Isaac?  Why does Isaac have autism?  I don't know.  My ignorance doesn't change anything.  I will try to help him and love him and encourage others along the way.

I leave you with beautiful words from Winnie the Pooh.  These words are gifts to me and you matter what we have to face.  "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think"...A.A. Milne

Love You Sweet Friends...

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