Friday, 22 February 2013

Recovery from what?

I watch my son playing in his room. He has come far the last year or so, with imaginative play, language, communication, I sometimes he really so different from the so called "normal" kids? He does stuff other kids do. Sure, he has some odd behaviours and some disturbing ones, but every one of them is something typical kids do too.
Then I remember. He is 5 years old.
If I close my eyes, pretend I don't know him, I hear a two or three year old voice, with about the right level of vocabulary for that age group. His social skills are a bit better, but he only engages in cooperative play with adults. Parallel play is as far as he goes with other kids. He is learning to take turns, but only with adults, and only with a lot of prompting.
He can't brush his teeth, dress himself, or wipe his bum. He is still in diapers most of the time because although he knows how to use the toilet, he just doesn't bother to go on his own, and actually prefers to poop in his diaper or undies.
He still smears poop, smacks himself, dumps food and cleaning products, watches Dora and Diego and Blues clues. He can't be trusted to be left alone for more than a few minutes.

Don't get me wrong, he is a great kid. He is affectionate, and he actually says I love you, Mom (okay, so it's more like "I lup you, Mumum", but I'll take it). He is bright and clever, and can get into locked rooms and mischief faster than I can keep up with.
He is behind his age in many things, but he knows his colours, shapes, numbers and most of his letters. He memorizes songs, and can repeat his favorite shows word for word.
Seeing him with typical kids is an eye opener, and reminds me that he can't be considered "normal" by any stretch. It makes me sad sometimes when on those rare occasions he tries to reach out with stuff he likes, in an attempt to play with the other kids. Like dumping gravel from the playground on his head, then on theirs. After all, if he likes it, they will too, right? I try to explain that not everyone likes what he likes. He seems to get it, but then the same thing happens the next time. Mostly he is content to play by himself. If he wants friends, he hasn't figured out how to let me know yet.
It isn't a tragedy, and he is learning. I don't expect him to be "normal", I don't even want him to be, really. I wish he understood better what the world expects of him, but that too, I can live with. I don't want to "recover" him from autism. I don't want to cure him of anything. He has a brain that works in a different way than most. I am content with that. I want him to learn as much as he can without pushing him to do things that he can't possibly manage, or even would want to. I let him try. I give him opportunities. Not being the most socially apt person myself, I do try to give him the chance to do social activities. I always fear that I am not doing enough, but that's motherhood, I suppose.
I love him. He neither needs to recover, nor is he likely to do so, no matter how much he learns to navigate the real world. It is okay. He can stay my little Monkey. He is himself. Not sick. Just different. I need to remember that.


  1. And he's a cutie, don't forget that!

  2. He's beautiful. and you are a wonderful mother. Don't ever doubt that.

    1. He is beautiful, but I have to give credit for that to his daddy. :) On good days, I feel like I am good enough. On bad days, well, I try to remember.

  3. I agree with Mac, he is a cutie patootie, and yes you are a good mother, or you wouldn't feel the way you do :)

  4. "normal" can be so boring!
    My step-son Liam (now in grade 9) is very proud of his autism and the gifts he has found. In grade school, he wasn't so sure about it. My wife and I just got sweatshirts for Autism Awareness month. Once he saw them, he wanted one that says "I'm autistic and proud of it".

  5. I totally get how you feel! My son is 5 years old as well, and has a different range of "unusual" behaviours from your son, but present and needing to be understood. I too sometimes think that he is "typical", because this is all we see everyday (we have no other children) and it becomes totally normal for us. Then, like you, I spend time with typical kids and see the vast chasm between them and my son. I try not to let it bother me, and I am more successful in this some days than others. I am getting better at celebrating the small things, like when responding to a question he will say "yes" instead of repeating the question to indicate a positive response (he is all over a "no" response, no problems there!). I also take a look at him and see the happy, affectionate, joy filled kid (who is also cute as a button), and try and remember that on days his behaviour is stressful and worrisome.