April 29th: Autism has taught me how to understand what is and isn’t said, experienced, and felt.
Much like “reading between the lines” when someone is talking, it’s important to read body language. It’s especially important when the person you are “reading” doesn’t understand most normal social cues. K has another set of evaluations recently. After they were complete, the psychologist met me with and my husband separately to discuss the results and what we thought of them separately and without K in the room. I went in first. We talked at length about K and the recommendations and what had worked for us in the past. My husband went in next and (I’m told) the first thing the psychologist said to him was “She knows that child.”
K has taught me a whole new language. One I’ve not only become proficient in, but one I’ve been able to teach others as well. Knowing triggers and seeing them before she does gives me an advantage on the lifelong playing field autism creates in our lives. I can redirect her or remove her from the stimuli before the tantrum erupts. I can help her cope through the stimuli, often with firm touches, if I can’t remove her. Knowing K gives me a unique perspective. Being a stay-at-home mom has given me a chance to get to know her on a level I think most parents miss out on. I can look at her face and know exactly what she’s feeling, even if she doesn’t have a word for it. I can hear the way she says something and gain an understanding of her meaning that most people would never have noticed.
Autism has given me the opportunity to truly know the inner working of my child. The things she does, or doesn’t do, the way she does things, why she does things a certain way. Autism has played a huge part in her development as a person and in mine as a mother. I had to learn her. She’d be lost without a translator. And how many people can honestly say they know what their child is feeling just by the look on their face? There is a subtle sadness in her eyes when she misses daddy. Something you wouldn’t pick up on in her speech or her manners, but it’s clearly there. There is a spark in her smile when she’s excited and an inexpressible joy to her step when she’s happy. She’s contagious. Her laughter is infectious; her joy spreads faster than fire during a drought, and her eyes light up when she sees someone special to her.
I know music makes her happy. That on a really rough morning, it’s okay to be late to class if it means we can finish listening to Matthew West or Francesca Battistelli on YouTube mobile. I can’t count the number of times that app has come in handy to curb a fit or soothe a rough moment.
I know she likes to read and will read anything you give her, so we give her a lot of books, magazines.
I know the mailman upsets her on a daily basis. I can’t imagine how many other children cry when there is nothing in the mailbox with their name on it, but I bet it’s not many.
I know her limits and how to push her past them in a delicate way.
I’m a better mother because I know how to help her become a better person.