~"Whatever they grow up to be, they are still our children, and the one most important of all things we can give to them is unconditional love. Not a love that depends on anything at all except that they are our children.:~ Rosaleen Dickson
"Mama? Do dogs have autism?" .."I really don't know...but that's a very good question Lil.." It really was a good question from my seven year old. Lily is an interesting girl. Head strong.. independent. So full of joy and energy..over full even so that at times it can turn on her..making her restless and obstinate. She knows what she wants and isn't afraid to
We were new to all things autism when Lily was an infant. I used to worry that I wouldn't ever be able to give her enough..time, energy, attention. That somehow, because her brothers needs seemed so enormous(at the time)-hers were going to be put on the back burner-lessened somehow. It took me about five minutes to get over that. Lily never SAW autism. Instead, she saw her brothers-her competition. To her-they were all on equal ground-if she wanted attention-she learned how to get it. I don't mean that in a negative way. It's more like she sees herself as any sibling does. The parents are fair game-and if you want something from them you jockey for position to get it. May I say-she does a very good job.
So although I wasn't surprised by her question-it was the reasoning behind it that made me think. "Autism" is a word that we use at home. Our boys are of an age where THEY notice that they are different. So we have been very open with our kids-how could we not? Lily, however, sees this as her brothers and sister having something she doesn't. "Sam has autism?" "yup"..."Oscar has autism?" .."yup"..."Zoe has autism?" "yup..."So they all have autism and I don't." "yup.".."Well that's not fair! What do I get??!!" .."A big hug and kiss from me?" "MAAAMA!"
We have always talked to the kids about how people are different-and that some people by their behavior or words or lack of words might appear more different than others. But no matter what the differences, everyone was deserving of dignity and respect. Everyone. We didn't use the word "autism" until we saw it on on the television show- "Arthur". ( You know the show-where the lead character(Arthur) is an aardvark who has a dog as a pet and a friend(Binky) at school who is a dog...and a friend(Francine) who is a monkey who has a pet cat-but also has a friend(Jenna) who is a cat?..It makes my head spin) It wasn't as if I was ashamed of the word. It just needed to be put it in a way they could all understand. Sigh...sometimes, I guess it doesn't take a village...sometimes it takes an aardvark...even if he does have a pet dog.
All of my kids require some sort of accommodations. All of them...and yes, some more than others.(we are a great example of what a spectrum is) That's just the way it is. It doesn't make anyone less for needing them or more for not. I could not imagine placing such a heavy load on my kids. Weighing one against the other..as if their worth were measured by needs or lack thereof. They are children first-my children, and they are equal.
So, do dogs have autism? I couldn't tell you. What I said to Lily was "Would it matter if they did?" she thought about it for half a second.."I guess not." The conversation was left at that. Because, she was already off and running on to the next thing that caught her interest. Because autism doesn't really matter to her. She looks at our family and see's just that-her family. Where she knows she is loved and cherished for being who she is. A sister and a daughter who sometimes thinks she is queen...sigh.. She gets the last part from me.