I often wonder what it is like for my son to walk through our world. What does he hear? What is his sight like? How does he view the grove of aspen trees, soft mounds of grass holding the white stalks with black freckles? Does he also see and feel I what I do? When I ask him what he sees, his response is, “Mom, I see a pirate ship with booby traps on every branch! Be careful!” With a laugh and small nod, I hug my son and tell him I love him for his creativity, his willful abandon of reality, his joy in the aspen trees. Like any parent, my son is someone who is unique and perfect in his own ways. He is the boy who won’t look at your in the eyes. He will hear everything you say, yet, he may choose to hold his words in his head. He plays with fearless tenacity for all things pirates and legos. His food cannot touch and if it does then, mercy me, it all goes into the “no-thank you bowl.” Shoes and socks and shirts and pants are all similar versions of the next. The smallest scent of lavender will put him into a tailspin, but a dab of vetiver will help him to take pause. His backpack is organized in a way that his chap-stick is in the right pocket and his sunglasses are in the front pocket. So, in essence my unique and perfect boy is quite picky, or fussy, if words in today’s society were to mark him. What I have come to understand and know is that my son is autistic. And, yes, as the saying goes, if you know one autistic person, then you know one autistic person. He is always moving – always. Arms go up and feet go out – and feet cross legs and hands touch the sky. His sense of the world is found in his understanding of how his body feels in his environment. Some may think he is rude or out-of-control or too demanding. And others, like me, know that his brain is wired in a way that is hyper-focused, sensitive, curious, and always running.
Here is my start to my understanding of how to be a single-parent of special needs child and another child who is seemingly untouched by autism. And, so, like the grove of aspen trees, I continue to explore and discover just what does that pirate ship really look like and why does it feel so scary to touch the wet grass. Here begins my exploration into my child’s world.