Thursday, July 28, 2011

Just My Son

I woke up the other morning from a dream in which Caden didn’t have autism. It was just a dream but I couldn’t stop thinking about it for some reason.  Had coffee, did some laundry, and worked on some school work with Caden but I still couldn’t shake the dream.  The disturbing part is that I felt like you would after a bad dream but that didn’t seem right since the dream was for all practical purposes good, right?

And then I stumbled across a question on a facebook group I belong to that asked if you would eliminate or cure your child’s autism if you could.  And then I started to put it all together and kind of figured out why the dream disturbed me so much.  

We’re lucky in that Caden doesn’t hurt himself or others deliberately, he is verbal although not always clear, and is making gains every day (BRAGGING MOMENT, he just graduated to the 5-6 year old gymnastics class at the Y and graduation was based solely on skill. The child who had trouble with steps is now walking forward, backward, and sideways by himself on the HIGH balance beam). Having said all of that, Caden can’t make eye contact, struggles with anything other than the most literal conversations, and frequently misunderstands social interactions with kids his age. He struggles with wide open spaces like parking lots, has difficulty understanding routine changes, and has more sensory challenges (like eating) than I care to mention at the moment. So would I take autism away from him? Of course, there’s no question because I want my kids to be happy and free from fear as much as they possibly can in life. I would love for him to not have to struggle with the things that other kids his age do without a second thought. 

But I also completely adore my son. I love the way he looks at you out of the corner of his eye (he knows everyone wants eye contact; it just isn’t something he can physically or mentally do). His sense of humor is quirky, unusual, and usually just plain funny. He has such a beautiful smile and his blue eyes simply light up when something catches his attention. He has an attention to detail that enables him to point out something to me every day that I wouldn’t have noticed, like the white butterfly in the field, the shape of the clouds, or how the color of the car next to us is just like the one on Team UmiZoomi. He doesn’t know that he is different; he is just Caden without worrying about what others think or do. He makes me really slow down and think about what I say before I say it, which I think has probably made me a better teacher. He has expanded my tolerance so that I don’t immediately think wow look at that brat.  Instead, I stop and ask myself if there is something I could do to help the mother/father/grandparent/sibling trying to deal with their life at that moment. 

I guess what scared me about the dream is that I don’t know who Caden would be without autism. There’s no question that I would still love him with my entire heart; he’s my son. What I finally realized is that I’ve accepted autism as a part of our life. That doesn’t mean I won’t fight like hell to keep it from taking Caden away from me. I’ll never stop fighting for and with him.  But I no longer always think about autism when I think about Caden. He’s back to just being my baby, my perfect adorable baby. And honestly that gives me a lot of hope for the future.