My oldest son is about to be diagnosed with autism. I guess I’ve always known he was different, a bit quirky and he’s always done some odd things but these things are about to be given an official name and that name is autism. You might not always see it but it is there and so here’s a few things about my son that you don’t see:
You might see my son playing happily at the park but what you don’t see is that he’s going down the slide over and over again in a repetitive way, you don’t see the clock inside his head that he’s keeping his time with, you don’t see that he’s trying to beat his record every time, you don’t see that the other children have tried to get him to join their game but actually he’s happier playing his own game and you don’t see me warning him every few minutes that we will be leaving the park soon because the transition will be difficult for him to handle.
You might come into my home and see my son watching a cartoon on his tablet but what you don’t see is that for the past few weeks he’s watched every season and every episode of that particular cartoon, you don’t see him quoting chunks of language from one of the characters and you don’t see the big deal it is if I suggest we watch something else.
You might see my son playing with his trains like any other boy but what you don’t see is he has each of his trains placed strategically and if someone moves them it will cause chaos in his world. You might see him looking at his globe of the world but what you don’t see is that he knows the temperatures in a lot of the countries he’s looking at and he knows how many hours it will take to fly there.
You might look through my kitchen window and catch a glimpse of me and my son at the dinner table but what you don’t see is the battle I’ve had to even get him to sit down because he is not interested in eating, you don’t see that he’s asked me for fish fingers for the 100th night in a row and you don’t see the melt down that will occur if some of that spaghetti bolognaise spills onto his skin.
You might see my son sitting in the class, behaving well and carrying out his tasks but what you don’t see is the effort he’s putting in just to be able to get through the school day, you don’t see him struggle to understand all these different conversations going on around him and you don’t see him taking every lesson very literal.
You might see my son come racing out of school at 3pm and running straight to me but what you don’t see are the hours we’ve spent going over social stories and the preparation we’ve gone through to get him to do this. You don’t see the burst of emotion he’s having at the school day finally being over.
You might see my son in the supermarket, you might think he’s being rude or naughty, you might even comment on it but what you don’t see is him struggling to process the lights, the noise, the busyness, you don’t see all this information flooding his brain so that he cannot cope with it.
You might not always see it, but I do. The professionals have seen it and they’re about to tick boxes, add up score sheets and give my son an autism diagnosis. You might then just see autism but I see a boy whose mind works in an incredible way, a boy who notices things others don’t, a boy who amazes me every day and a boy who fills my world with awesomeness!!