When you’re a new mom or dad you find yourself watching every little thing your child does with wonder, awe, and inspiration. You notice their first giggles, the first time they make eye contact with you, when they first roll over, when they take their first steps, and when they fully become aware of the world around them. You anticipate a world where your child meets all their milestones and everything makes perfect sense; and for a while, it all seems to be going by the book- until one day, it isn’t.
Autism looks different for every one affected by it; for the person diagnosed, for the people who love them, and for the family members who protect them. For some, autism takes away the ability to speak, for some autism takes away the ability to feel things under normal circumstances. For others autism takes away the ability to cope and makes them rely on repetitive behavior to make it through the day. For everyone affected by autism – it fills their lives with more questions than answers but if you take the time to stop looking for a reason, searching for a cause or a cure, and just see the person in your life for who they are – you’ll see that autism gives a lot more than it takes.
For a sweet little boy named Enoch, autism took away his ability to feel things the same way everyone else does, the ability to self soothe, and the feeling of comfort and safety. He can’t eat certain foods, can’t wear certain items of clothing – socks are a struggle for a good ten minutes a day. He can’t interact with people the way he wants to and it frustrates him. He can’t go to daycare or play with toys the way other kids his age do and he’s always rough, he plays hard, he has to do everything 20x more than everyone else just to get a sensation from it. He doesn’t sleep through the night, certain sounds can trigger a break down, and going shopping takes patience and prayers because stores are overwhelming. Sometimes, days are just long, they’re just rough. He carries the same stuffed dog he’s had since he was 1, and we have 2 extra’s just in case (even though he notices the difference and will never play with those). Enoch has to have small toys in his pockets (usually dogs or cats), in the car, at the homes of people he visits frequently, and a juice cup at night just because it’s comfortable. There are many things about Enoch’s life that autism made different…many things autism took away.
What autism gave Enoch, and the people who love him however, was more than could ever have been expected.
Autism gave Enoch a love for animals, dedication and determination to learn about all sorts of them. It gave him the ability to brighten someone’s day with just his smile, his real one or his fake goofy one. Autism gave him the ability to remember everything; names, dates, colors, song lyrics, you name it – he can recall it. It gave him the desire to be kind and understanding. Some people think that those affected by autism can’t be empathetic, but that’s not true, people with autism feel everything more – everything is heavier. Enoch is the most emphatic person in the world. Autism gave him the know when to give hugs and kisses, to say sweet things to make someone’s day. It gave him habits, some that most people wouldn’t understand, but through those habits he learned how to exist in this world that is too loud, too bright, too much – autism gave him the ability to be an overcomer, a survivor. Most important, and perhaps most worth mentioning is that autism gave Enoch, my son, the biggest heart out of anyone in this world. It gave him love, in abundance, love to keep for himself and love to share to others. Autism gave him the ability to look at normal things and see the extraordinary in them, to look at something that would normally be regarded as plain, or unimportant, and give it meaning. Autism gave him the realization that everything in this world is important, even if sometimes that means he feels overwhelmed – he pushes past it and he loves, he experiences, and he grows – he’s incredible in a way that words don’t do justice.
He’s only five, but he’s already prepared to take on the world, and he will – on his own bright, colorful, wonderful path and I will be there to hold his hand the entire way. I’ll love him through it.
When autism happens to someone you love, it happens to you too – but it doesn’t mean the end of the dreams you had for the person, or the end of their own dreams and aspirations. It simply means those dreams will be achieved differently, and when the milestones happen, when the big moments arrive – they’ll mean even more.
When autism happens to someone you love, you may not know how to handle the news. It comes as a shock at first to most, while some expect it from the little things they notice; regardless of how it happened to you – it’s never something you’re prepared to hear. Autism isn’t something that you invite into your lives, and it’s not something that leaves once it’s found home in a person – but it doesn’t have to be what determines how life looks for anyone affected by it; it’s just part of who they are, it’s a small piece of their puzzle.
There are many organizations that can help you on your journey to facing autism, whether you’re the one affected, or it appears in someone you love. The organizations are world wide, specific to region, but also closer to home than you may know. There are many places in your own neighborhood that can help you with an autism diagnosis, and there are things you can do at home too.
For more information on how to handle a new autism diagnosis, we found an extremely informative page that details some key points in moving forward.
Remember to love, show respect, and spread kindness – these are key parts in accepting your own diagnosis, helping a loved one through theirs, and making the world a more understanding place for anyone who lives a bit more unique than most others do.
If autism has happened to you, or someone you love, tweet us at @CelebMixCares and share your story with us; we’d love to hear it.