Bio - Mom of 3! 11 year old daughter Michaela and twin 4 year boys, Nicholas and Noah. Both diagnosed with severe non verbal ASD last year. Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/letterstonickandnoah/
To the mom who doesn’t need to know about Autism.
I see you everywhere I go. Our kids are the same age. We live on the same street. I drive by when you are dropping off at the local preschool. When I’m headed to therapy.
I see you in the grocery store running in for only a few things with all your well behaved children in tow. You can run in and run out in less than 15 minutes flat. When I have worked for over 3 hours to just get my kiddo to stand by my cart without running away, dropping to the ground or having a full on meltdown. And we are only practicing to actually shop.
I see you at the playground. Meeting up with friends for a play date. You are all sitting around a table talking, drinking your Starbucks - keeping one eye on the kids. Every once in awhile you look up, causally call their names. I’m always taken aback when I hear them yell back, “mom I’m right here”. When I’m feverishly chasing mine afraid to lose them. When I call their names - there is panic in my voice. Because I know they won’t yell back or run to me. If I’m calling their names it’s because I’m having a full blown anxiety attack and lost sight of them. I can’t leave them for one instant for fear they will elope, hurt someone, or be lost forever.
I see you in the neighborhood taking family walks. Your kid just mastered riding a bike without training wheels. You have already looped the cul-de-sac multiple times. He’s yelling for you to watch him, you almost look bored because you have seen him ride his bike so many times. The excitement of a new mastered skill has worn off. When I’m forcing my kids to just try and walk beside me down the drive way and back. We have to practice that. Every day - over and over again. We are practicing not running away, we are working on following directions and being safe when outside. We are working hard on turning around when I call their names. Maybe one day we will try a bike.
I see you in music class. You are sitting with your engaged kiddo - singing along to every song. Your child is reciting every song word for word and interacting with the teacher. She’s sitting so nice on your lap as you twirl her long ponytail. When I’m trying to redirect one kid back to the group. He’s overwhelmed and having a hard time. Maybe it’s the noise, the other kids, the music or the lights. I’m not quite sure - but still we try. And my other one is stimming in the corner alone. He does this when he’s trying to regulate himself. He likes to jump up and down repeatedly and flap his little hands.
I see you at soccer practice in the park. You are proudly cheering in the bleachers as your kid runs up and down the field and attempts to score a goal. He’s laughing and rolling around in the field with the other boys on his team. They all line up and give each other high fives after the game and you beam with pride. When I’m holding my kiddos hand and pointing to the sky. I’m trying to get him to notice the airplanes. I think he knows they are up there but I can’t quite get him to look up when they fly by.
I see you everywhere I go. I used to be you. I used to not know what Autism was. I used to live a life that wasn’t consumed by OT, PT, Speech Therapy, ABA, Developmental Pediatricians, Specialist Appointments, Communication Devices. I used to not be this exhausted and full of anxiety.
To the mom who doesn’t need to know a thing about Autism, I don’t want you to think this is my plea for you to become an expert. I don’t need you to advocate on my children’s behalf. I don’t need you to donate to our Autism fundraiser or “like” my Instagram page. I don’t need sympathy and I don’t want pity because we lead a really wonderful but totally different life.
To the mom that doesn’t need to know a thing about Autism - I only ask one thing of you. Please raise your children kind. Begin to talk to them everyday about kids that look different, act different, speak different, play different. Normalize that for them. Please talk to them about showing up for the kid on the playground that is alone, crying or acting different then them. Please talk to them about inclusion. Make it your life goal to be certain they would never think twice about befriending a child like mine. I promise you - there will be no proud like the proud you feel when you see your child run over to include mine.