Monday, January 28, 2013

We let him BE

Editor's note: I probably don't parent like you parent and that's okay. I probably am not raising my Autist child in a fashion that you can relate to or appreciate, that's also okay. This post might offend some people because they might see me placing a joyful childhood above the rigors of constant therapy. This is also okay. I just want what I feel is the best for my child. Everyone's opinions differ.

People, meaning neurotypical people, will say or ask the silliest things to me. "I couldn't do what you do." Parent my kids? "How do you do this?" What? Parent my child? He's only an Autist and I'm only a proud parent. This is our parenting of Morgan then and now.

I believe that my husband and I are parents with good intentions. That we, as parents, are allowing our son to be the individual Autist he is. We love our son and, at the end of the day, just want our son to be happy. We believe that he is or else he wouldn't laugh and want to dance so much. He dances more than he cries now. This wasn't the way things were not too long ago. Before we were schooled in Morganese. Before we learned about "our autism."

You see, I firmly believe that each and every Autist, like each and every neurotypical, is as much of an individual as are snowflakes. Hokey and novel concept, I know. Shocking for some, even, I realize, but please, be patient with me.

I was once one of those neurotypicals that read and believed the crap out there that seems to express a cookie cutter definition of autism. Scratch that, I don't know if I believed it, because I wasn't seeing it personally at home or in the Autists I began to talk with, see, or hear about. I was so damned ignorant to what was in front of me and so I stopped and listened and looked and took notes.

Morgan stims and has tics. I wrongly thought I should shut those down completely. Not just divert from those that could seriously injure him or cause infection, like his dermatilliomania, but his rocking, humming, peeping like Thomas the Tank, and others that don't cause a damned bit of harm. In school, in order to not disturb others, I encourage his teacher to put Velcro strips under his desk for a sensory fulfillment and it's worked. But when he's home? My son is one big "if you're happy/sad/mad/bored and you know it, flap your hands" and I don't do anything to discourage it. He's not hurting anyone. He's happier now that we've done this.

Morgan loves to script his Thomas the Tank stories. I mean loves. Do I get tired of hearing them? Oh, yes. However, when that little boy asks me if he can tell me a story, I say usually yes. I say yes because not too long ago, he couldn't or wouldn't say more than a couple of words as a sentence. What parent would say no to this? Granted, sometimes I schedule a time for said stories, and I also head him off at the pass when he breaks into one spontaneously as an answer to a question which is unrelated (diversion), but I still just love to hear him talk.

Morgan, as a younger child, would have meltdowns that were, from what I read in psych, textbook typical of an autistic child. They could last for hours. We're talking screaming, kicking, biting... As he's grown older, he's cried. Sobbed, really. I recognize all of this now as his frustration of not being able to verbally express emotions. When he is able to, he doesn't cry for as lengthy periods of time. I would like to say that in this new year, we've had fewer tears, but it's only January. Morgan is a sensitive kid. So, we have tears and we live with it. We also work out coping strategies, it's what we do in order to teach our son how to navigate grade school and, for the future, the world.

This is our strategy now: We let him dance, sing, script, play with trains, and BE.

We're trying to not get bogged down in the therapies, the IEP (we just make sure it's being followed), and the "what ifs" in life. The thing is, we've been stressed out for most of his young life with therapy (with the exception of one year, he's been in at least speech since he was nearly three), with the "what ifs" of life and for the last two years, I've freaked out regularly about IEP violations.

This year, the IEP was fairly easy. No tears on my part and adherence to everything I've asked for from what I can see.

We've worried about what he might be missing out on and that's never going to go away. I worry about his lack of a circle of friends, but honestly, I'd rather him have one great friend than five so-so friends. I try not to worry about what could lay in his future because my child is full of surprises. I try to presume competence. It's what all parents, no matter their child's neurology, should do.

We're focusing on what we have as parents and what he has as an Autist child. We're raising him to be proud of his Autism, that it's nothing to be ashamed of, the same as race or gender. At the end of the day, we just try to let him BE.
Happy Mardi Gras from Morgan!


  1. no tears at the IEP? You're doing something right.

  2. Love this. We try to just let our son "be", too. We recently consolidated his weekly therapy schedule and eliminated Saturday interventions (he was in therapy M-F and Saturday mornings for the past 2 years), so now we have more time to just a family. It was a decision wrought with doubt, but now that we've done it we're so happy that we are taking the time to just enjoy life.

    1. At some point, I don't know when, we just noticed that he was exhausted with us (meaning me) constantly hammering him. We didn't do Saturday therapy because, frankly, we couldn't afford it and before now, our insurance wouldn't cover it.

      We noticed that after we moved (which we, meaning I, were terrified of) that our kid was just happier. He receives more hours of services in school than he would out of it. I do a LOT at home with him as well.

      The biggest factor in all of this, to get him to where he is today, has been letting him be a kid. Letting him explore safely. We're lucky that we live outside of a great city that piques his interests in music and that he's made friends. Like you said, we're enjoying life. That in itself has rubbed off on our son(s).