Thursday night when we were at Isaac’s school for the annual open house, I was thinking about my friend’s words. This is what autism looks like at our house. While I enjoy going to the open house every year, it’s really hard for the students because they are not typically there in the evening. Seeing some of the students' behaviors, however, make me appreciate my boys.
At the school, we saw two families we haven’t seen in a long time. One I spotted down a hallway and knew it was not a good time to approach since their son was having a difficult time leaving the building. The other family was near us as we were eating dinner. I sat down to talk to them for a few minutes while Chris stayed behind at our table with our three boys. One of their boys was making noises. According to his mom, he had not been happy earlier. One student across the room was flapping his hands and jumping.
As I talked with that family who also has two sons with autism, I realized how this saying holds true: If you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism.
We are all so different.
I’ve thought about what has transpired during the past few days with Isaac and Noah so I can provide a glimpse of what autism is like for our family.
This is what autism looks like at our house:
Autism is receiving a phone call from my son who missed the bus Wednesday because he had run the mile in PE class and was walking too slowly to board the bus on time.
Autism is realizing late at night that my son’s speech generating device is gone. Autism is praying that he left it at school (and it’s not lost) because it’s worth more than some cars. Autism is not being able to know for sure what happened to it without consulting a teacher or another adult at school.
Autism is hearing my son say, “I ran the mile – that is 1.609344 kilometers – in 10 minutes and 40 seconds, which is only 6 minutes and 57 seconds off the world record!”
Autism is having a respite provider stop by at 4 p.m. for my son’s twice-a-week trip to the YMCA. (Does he go anywhere else? Not usually because that’s the routine.)
Autism is receiving a phone call from my son who missed the bus Thursday because he lost his planner and stayed at school to look for it.
Autism is my son shutting down my computer and turning off the TV, no matter who is watching or using it.
Autism is turning off the lights constantly, especially when someone else needs them to be left on.
Autism is going to bed at night and asking your younger brother if he knows to which political party George Washington belonged.
Autism is having perfect pitch.
Autism is my son demanding to watch the movie “Elf” when any football game is broadcast on TV.
Autism is talking about the storm that dropped a lot of snow on the northern states.
Autism is listening to my son become upset because he wants me to drive the car, not the van.
Autism is seeing lightning and saying, “I love natural phenomenon.”
Autism is demanding that the dishwasher only runs at certain times, and the blinds are up until it’s dark outside.
Autism is sitting in the gymnasium eating dinner while my son is taking out the garbage, carrying water pitchers to the kitchen, and starting the dishwasher at the school – all tasks nobody asked him to complete.
Autism is being upset when leaving the school and yelling, “Playground, playground!”
Autism is having a fabulous memory but struggling to be organized.
Autism is cultivating relationships with teachers and being grateful for those who go the extra mile.
Autism is hugging a former teacher and using arms to give the hug.
Autism is being in the middle of dinner and having my son take my plate away.
Autism is lying in bed with earplugs and hearing my son scream bloody murder when my husband leaves for work at 6:30 am.
Autism is being involved in band, jazz band, chorus, men’s choir, and cooking club while still getting fabulous grades.
Autism is eating the same thing for breakfast every morning.
Autism is snuggling in bed with my son while he puts his arm around my neck.
Autism is playing two players on the Wii, but the two players are the same person and there is no turn taking.
Autism is my son getting up by himself, getting breakfast ready, packing up for school, and his dad taking him to jazz band before 6:45 a.m.
Autism is not knowing how to ride a bike or tie shoes.
Autism is writing a blog post at 12:30 a.m. because my son is sleeping and my computer can stay on.
Autism is my son being ready 20 minutes before the bus arrives, opening and shutting and opening and shutting the front door, and coming inside when he sees my coffee cup is empty, so he can load it into the dishwasher.
Autism is having interesting dinner conversations – sometimes about the digestive system.
Autism is taking back recycling every Wednesday, going to the YMCA every Thursday, and eating pizza every Friday.
Autism is giggling and saying, “My birthday is July 18th.” (That’s a classmate’s birthday. Can I fool my parents?)
Autism is telling my son every night he is my sweet boy and hearing him repeat it.
Autism is laughing when a younger brother learns to make farting noises with his hand and armpit.
This is what autism looks like at our house.