Use your big boy words…we say that a lot at our house.
My son is highly intelligent, he can tell you everything you never wanted to know about maps and animals. When he starts to recollect an activity he participated in or a story he read or heard, be prepared for the long road. He has to give every detail, every tiny little nuance to make sure he explains it right. It’s not enough to say that his class had a visit from a DARE police officer and they talked about safety. He has to describe him, his uniform, where he stood, where all his classmates were sitting, what they talked about etc…
But when he is anxious or nervous, he reverts to baby talk. I have to admit it gets on my nerves to say the very least and my first reaction was to correct and scold. Your a big boy, your too smart to talk that way. As of late, I have realized that he is communicating to me something that he cannot express with his vast vocabulary. I am scared, I am anxious, I am nervous, I don’t feel like I’m in control here, I don’t know what to do next. That realization has changed how I deal with him. Yes, I still remind him to use our big boy words. But I am also very conscious of him and that he’s anxious and uncertain. Depending on the situation I try to assist him to help him realize what is going on and what could come next. It is something we are working on.
But yesterday this whole scenario came rushing back to me. As I am at a training meeting for work, some of the ladies start discussing their kids. You know, the normal, how many? How old? Boys? Girls? Interests? Cute stories? etc. I am quiet and listening watching each mother as they beam with pride, secretly praying that my Roo is not in the principle’s office as we speak, hoping beyond hope that he has a good day. Worried that I’m two hours away and can’t get to him fast enough. And now its my turn and I give all the info. 3 kids, 2 boys, 1 girl, 14, 7, and 6. Then the topic changes and we have now moved on to ordering lunch and one gentleman asks if they can take something off his lunch cause the texture bothers him, and another lady starts ranting about her nephew who has “sensory issues” and what a load of crap it is and how what he really needs is some disciplinee, and I can’t be quiet. I have to defend him, the nephew, cause I get it. But then I am challenged as to why I think I know so much about a kid I have never met and I have to say it. I have to say that my kid is the same way. My kid has sensory issues. My kid is ….. I pause. I am in a room of people I don’t know. How are they going to take this? Will they get it? Will I be another mother who doesn’t discipline her children? Will they see my boy differently? I am anxious, nervous, I feel like I’m losing control, I don’t know what to do next! And I see a vision of my sweet Roo come rushing to me, “Use your Big Girl words momma.” My kid is Autistic.
Why I even cared what a room full of strangers thought is beyond me. I am not one to care normally. I am who I am and often say things that are best left unsaid. It bothered me all day. Why was that so hard to say. I say it everyday, I am not ashamed of my son. On the way home I really started to think about it to process all the different times I have shared this nugget of info to the world and how I have presented it. And now I think I should be ashamed. Not of my kid, not of the fact that he is autistic, but of myself. Because, when dealing with family and some others who don’t get it I avoid it at all cost. I don’t want to hear another lecture about what a terrible mother I am, or how there was none of this autism stuff when we were growing up and how a good swat on the rear end will cure it. I don’t want pity from stranger or friends alike. I don’t want unsolicited advice on why he is the way he is and how to fix it!! I know why he the way he is! So when we go to places like my in laws or church we are careful to never say that word. You know the word. The A word. Why? So what if their opinions are bridled with spite and unbelief. So what if they don’t agree with how I raise my son? So what if they don’t believe in Autism.
I am not going to beat around the bush any longer. My son is truly a beautiful boy and I am his momma for a reason. He is smart, funny, and a little quirky. He is Autistic, and no that’s not a dirty word!