"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are"
"It's not what you're looking at that matters, it's what you see"
Henry David Thoreau
I got a call from Oscar's occupational therapist last week. During the course of our conversation she said "I wanted to let you know, that in all my years of doing this, I never had a student as confident as he is." My Oscar-confident. How incredible is that? This boy of mine who stims and shakes and eeeeeee's is confident in who he is. It's true though. Watching Oscar walk down the halls of school, or in the store..he radiates such self esteem. The entire school knows him. He is the boy who addresses everyone by name, notices new shoes, new haircuts..outfits..and he always has something to say about it. He is also the boy who has trouble with pragmatic language. His conversation is limited. He is more inclined to repeat funny words and phrases instead of answering questions.
"Hi Oscar, how was school?" "..good..MAMA! say-grey stuffed animals nose!" "Did you do anything special today?" "Say it Mama! Grey stuffed animals nose.."
"sigh...grey stuffed animals nose..did you have library today?" "HAHAHAHAHAHAH! grey stuffed animals nose! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" "Oscar! Did you have library today??!" "It's funny Mama." "I know it's funny, but I'm trying to ask you a question...did you have library?"
"(whispered) grey stuffed animals...Yes! I had library!...nose nose nose..." Off he goes to find more things to laugh at via youtube..(the source of said grey stuffed animal and nose)
His stimming and lack of conversational skills don't stop him from having friends, being invited to birthday parties, or even asked to play. It is his confidence and joyfulness that draw people to him. He is a terrific kid, and people see that. Right now, we live in a very small community and he is insulated from much of the worlds prejudices. I get that. I know that his behaviors aren't always going to be so easily dismissed, so readily accepted. We are working on them at his own pace, not mine. He knows that public stimming, shaking and eeing are not always going to be acceptable. That people will look and that is all that they will see-not bothering to acknowledge the person behind them. He gets that. He really does, and he is working very hard to find ways to cope in public. At home-all bets are off. It is stim central, and that is just fine. Home should be that way. Home is where the "eeee" is.
The idea behind this post today was to talk about perspective. When I got the call last week from Oscar's o.t. it was great. I love hearing good things about my kids. The o.t. had even gone on to say "Oscars confidence and self esteem are a testament to your parenting" Normally, I shy away from parenting compliments. They make me uncomfortable. I make far too many mistakes on a daily basis to bask in the glow of praise. Parenting is parenting. I don't deserve any more credit than any other parent-special needs kids or not. In other words...I'm just doing my job. Today though, I am going to take that compliment and wear it like a mantle.
I was over at AoA (because Kim Wombles made me go look) and I read a piece called "A mother's perspective: What is Autism." In it the mother describes her experience with autism as being-an empty suitcase, an empty guidebook, guilt, endless, a crisis,a war, loneliness, isolation, and a thief. http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/03/a-mothers-perspective-what-is-autism.html#more I would not have been surprised if she had included locusts and plagues.
Look, I'm not dismissing that she has had a hard time. I am not dismissing that her son struggles. Some of her descriptions of his behavior very much remind me of Oscar's first four years of life. Parenting isn't easy. But to call your son a saint and portray yourself as some kind of warrior is a huge mistake, and a disservice to all parents, and to all people with autism. He is your son, your child, a person-and you are his mother. There are no stronger descriptive needed. There is a big difference between looking at what you have as opposed to what you don't. Oscar is MY proof of that.
So today, when I ask him how school was and he says "slinky feet" or "stuffed animals nose"..or our old favorite "Farmers nipples!" I'm going to laugh right along with him. He'll let me know about school when he's ready to, and in his own time. I have absolute confidence that he will. Right now, I have only this one moment in time, and I am not going to waste it thinking about what could have been. It really is all in how you look at it. Oscar is here right now-and he is wonderful, and I am blessed. Carpe farmers nipples!