My post yesterday was about how Mr 3, my autistic son, sees the world differently. I shared a few examples – making a seesaw out of train tracks, playing both controls of a two-player playstation game, because his big sister was at school, and using the ‘word’ instead of the ‘picture’ to match cards in a Speech Therapy ‘game’.
I had a bit of response to this post – I apparently was nominated for ‘The Sunshine Award‘ (not that I know how this all works! But I’m extremely flattered, nonetheless! Thanks, butimbeautiful!); and on twitter I caused @jobeaz to *sniff* at what she thought was a ‘beautiful post’ and @gigglesigh to make the comment ‘different minds open your eyes to new things… new experiences’.
Her tweet made me stop and think. Yes, that’s so true. And I replied to this effect, hinting that I hadn’t always felt this way.
And then I thought that I’d like to explore this idea further in a blog post. So here ’tis.
I have always been a perfectionist. I’m smart, okay. Smart enough to realise that that last sentence sounds remarkably conceited, and I’ve just lost all but maybe two of my readers. But I’ll continue anyway, because I want to nut this out in my own head, and sometimes that’s easiest when I’m typing. So anyway…
Yes, I’m a perfectionist. I’m bossy. I know that I can get things done, and they’ll probably get done pretty well – if they get done *my* way. And Ghylene’s tweet made me realise that, you know what? I’m actually not entirely comfortable with “new things… new experiences”. I want things to be the best they can be, because I’m a perfectionist, and for that to happen, I need to be in control of it. Yes, I’m probably one of the biggest control freaks that you have ever met. Yes, I like ‘new things… new experiences’… but only on *my* terms.
So to *suddenly* (haha) have an autistic son has really thrown my world out-of-kilter. Suddenly I’m not in control – and, worse still, I’m aware of this fact. Suddenly I have a little body in my life who does things unexpectedly; and although the things that he does may often be those that society deems as ‘not appropriate’ (i.e. banshee screams accompanying tantrums where he loses any semblance of self-control) – reacting to these things as I would react to any other ‘normal’ child, by assuming that they are engaging in intentional misbehaviour, is also wrong. Because his reactions, although these may be ‘abnormal’ by my / our / society’s standards? These reactions *are* normal for him. And that has been a difficult adjustment for my 37 year old brain to make.
A few months ago, when Mr 3 was officially diagnosed and I was on the biggest emotional roller coaster I’d ever been on, I was overwhelmed with the support I received from many, many, many, online friends. One such, sent me a link to a blog post written by another mum whose son had recently been diagnosed with autism. She wrote about how her life had substantially changed, overnight, without warning. She described it as planning a holiday to one country, (I think it was Greece?) but had ended up in another (Italy? from memory…). And how it took a huge amount of adjustment, but then she was able to reflect on the beauty that lay in the new path she’d found herself on.
I think that slowly, I’m starting to appreciate some aspects of my new path. It’s taking a while. I cry – like when Miss 7 identifies a storybook character as autistic – from the very first page – and she’s right (Wrong Way, a book about three duckings and their mother who tries to cope) – like when Mr 3 finally says ‘Bye, bye, Mummy”, in context, and gets it sounding almost recognisable, and I realise that he is just so darn far behind his peers because he’s almost 3 1/2 and children who’ve just turned 2 can speak more intelligibly – like right now, when I’m writing, thinking of my beautiful little boy and how I love him so much and want to protect him from all the crap that life can dish out…
Anyway, I just wanted to get that out there. I’m a perfectionist, and a control freak, and I need to change all that. Hopefully, prayerfully, day by day, I am…