1. I’ve been taught to see the world differently and in more detail.
I’ve been shown how train wheels really turn, how sand sifts through fingers, and how water moves around when you move in a body of it. But not only that I see the smaller mile stones that other parents might not notice. Like my husband and I celebrated the first time my two sons had an argument, they were in diapers and they were pretty mad about how a toy was supposed to function in play and we were so happy to see mr. L interact with his brother in a way that he was acknowledging and communicating with him. Sometimes, its the small things 😉
2. When he likes you, it’s not a popularity contest.
Mr. L is a very good judge of character. He won’t like someone just because they appear friendly. When my son likes a person, he has chosen them and it is a gift. Mr. L doesn’t care what you wear, what color your hair is- although he might get pretty excited over seeing a new color of hair, but he never judges. My son doesn’t care if you are rich or poor or what job you hold. But he can pick up on the vibe of someone, and he won’t stick around for rude or mean people, he just doesn’t have time for that.
3. He doesn’t share his world with everyone.
Mr. L doesn’t talk to everyone and he doesn’t easily do small talk. He chooses who he wants to talk to and then when he talks, he shares a small glimpse of the world he lives in and it’s magical. I’ve had school staff tell me stories about how mr. L showed them something and in his own way explained things that they had never even thought about before. Without any lead up, he once drew on his giant white board all the planets, and labeled each planet with the first letter of that planet and he included some moons of those planets. I didn’t know he knew the planets, or that they had an order, or that they had their own moons. Heck I couldn’t name another planet’s moon, but he could! Along with the temperatures and climates of many of them.
4. I have learned patience.
I know many people may think to themselves, “yeah, I’m a parent. I’ve learned to be patient too”. But no, patience for a child with special needs is more than just the patience any parent can learn. There is another level to it, you don’t just play the same song of, “We will Rock you” by Queen 900 times, you don’t just tune it out, but you sing along, you smile and you bounce with him. But I have learned every step of the way to find peace in the crazy. It’s not an endurance thing, because this isn’t a basic race, you can’t sprint through it. It is a journey. Every time we think we have figured it out and we think we’ve found the calm, it’s time to push him again and it might be time to find more patience.
5. He is an artist.
He draws things I’ve never noticed before, or things he has watched that I didn’t pick up on and he draws details others would probably leave out. He will draw a still frame from a movie he watched once months ago. He will draw the inside of a specific navy ship with a floor plan that includes toilets, closets, pillows, and sink handles. He just notices these things and assumes everyone else does too.
6. I know now how to help others.
I know everyone is unique and different, and I can’t claim to understand everyone without walking in their shoes. But have you ever seen a mother struggling with a toddler and wishing you knew how to help, but you didn’t want to make it worse? I now have a very good idea how to help. I noticed when smaller older ladies are looking around wondering how they are going to reach something off the top shelf at the grocery store and I offer to help reach it. I’ve seen a mother trying to keep track of a busy toddler while wearing her little baby in a check out at a store and I offered to put her things on the check out conveyer belt for her, so she wouldn’t have to bend over and could keep her eye on her busy little helper. But more than that, I recognize the needs of others I otherwise might not have seen. I’ve seen a woman in a clothing store with a very stressed out adult son who had special needs, and I asked if I could help. She told me her son was autistic and was having a hard day. I told her I too had a son on the spectrum and asked if I could help. I smiled and said hi to her son, I asked him about his shirt and what his name was, and soon both were smiling again so she could safely leave the store with her son. I didn’t tackle a shark or buy anyone a new car, but I made their day a little easier.
7. He has taught me to enjoy life.
I mean, I think I was a happy person before becoming his mother. But I didn’t enjoy things like; snow, leaves, train tracks, or swimming to the level that I do now until mr. L took the time to show me what I had been missing out on. Some times it’s not even him physically showing me how leaves come in different colors. I have been taught to enjoy these things through seeing the pure, innocent and deep joy these things bring to him. Mr. L laughs when he runs into a cold lake and his anxiety melts when he focuses on the texture of leaves. My son teaches me by example to enjoy the simple things. He makes me happier, and my life if fuller because of him and his siblings being a part of my journey.
8. I’ve become organized
This one was a harder one to learn. I’ve always liked to-do lists, and even more seeing a to-do list with everything crossed off. A finished to-do list is very satisfying for me, and I enjoy calendars and planners probably more than I should. So when I say “organized” I mean knowing what is on the menu before trying out a new restaurant and knowing to go between lunch and dinner rush if I don’t know the feel of the atmosphere. I have routines for showering, getting ready in the morning, bedtime, packing a lunch, and what to order at McDonalds. It may sound like my life has been taken over by autism. But my child has more peace when there is a plan in place… for EVERYTHING. So I’ve learned and it’s become second nature to think ahead before attempting things. And even more important, is knowing the routine or schedule so that I can tweak it just a bit as often as I can. I do this in a way so that he has the comfort of the foundation of promised patterns, but I can change his pattern just a little bit so he can also learn that things can’t always be the same. I hope this makes sense.
9. His hug means something.
He doesn’t just give out his hugs like it’s free money. If he gives a hug it’s because he trusts you and you give him real joy. I know a person that says, “Hey, it’s my favorite person!” when they give me a side hug in greeting and I full on know they say it to everyone. It sounds cheap and it would have been better for them to have just said, “Hey it’s Rachel! How are you!?”. Mr. L has this same sentiment about hugs. He won’t just give them out to any relative, friend, or acquaintance. My son’s hug’s are in low supply, so their worth is higher.
10. I melted.
The day my son finally said the words, “I love you mom” was more than words could have described and that moment set me up to be caught off guard for the rest of my life. Whenever he chooses to say it, again time stops for a second. He has recently began to give me a kiss on the cheek occasionally and sporadically when he feels like it, and I always feel like, “Wow! What did I do to deserve that!?” But part of the little mr. L magic is he probably wont ever tell me 😉
Has autism taught you anything new or exciting? Tell us about it in the comments. Please remember to like and share!