Welcome back to my crazy house blogs. New Blogs are coming your way with raw reality starting today. I am here to talk about the positives that I have learned being a mom to a now young adult with the career of his dreams on the spectrum despite the many challenges he has overcome to get there. I hear some parents say, “But my child can’t talk,” “My child needs self-care help,” or “My child is so aggressive,” or “overly sensitive,” and how their child “needs” to fit into society. In this case, it’s not entirely their fault why they think and feel this way because society and professionals tend to make Autism out to be that way. However, this misconception does put limitations on their children and their expectations for their children. Yes, I totally get it’s hard because it comes with so many self-sacrifices, and that’s also my kid. It is hard to be a parent to any child. To now parent a child on the spectrum who struggles to fit in anywhere is a whole other level. My son didn’t speak until eight years old with one to two words. He could only ride a bike at fourteen and still could not tie his shoes or button buttons. There were many calls from the school, so many suspensions, and calls to pick him up immediately. Not to mention the child services calls and random visits from police officers for his “behavior.” I can’t count the countless and endless appointments for him and for myself for IEP / IPRC meetings, ABA therapies (this is a long dispute that we will discuss another day), mom groups for support, and family counseling. You name it. But despite his “needs,” he gets up every morning smiling and ready to get to work! To the career of his dreams for as long as I can remember being a Gamer Youtube Streamer & Comedian as well as an Epic Games partner. Yes, he still requires help, but honestly, who doesn’t in one way or another, if you think about it?
Good News!! It’s 2023. We all live in a world that thrives on diversity, and it is essential to celebrate and appreciate each individual’s unique qualities. Autism is a neurological condition affecting communication, social interaction, and behavior, which is all an aspect of diversity that deserves our appreciation and understanding. While going from one appointment to another, I began to perceive autism as a limitation and believed everything the “professionals” told me. Let me tell you how changing my thoughts and feelings changed our lives, especially my son’s life. First, I want you to take a moment to think about the incredible strengths, talents, and contributions of individuals on the autism spectrum who showcase the beauty of autism in the many well-known people, such as the famous YouTube Gamer “Ninja” aka Tyler Blevins who inspires many young people every day while masking his daily challenges to show that he can and will succeed, Dan Aykroyd from Ghostbusters, Lionel Messi an Argentine professional soccer player and more!
When young children are first diagnosed with autism, to parents like myself, it sounds devastating because of all the unknowns and misunderstandings. You listen quietly, holding back the tears of everything the doctors and therapist tell you they can’t do, but forget to mention the remarkable qualities often associated with autism, like the ability to hyperfocus on specific subjects or tasks. Individuals with autism possess unparalleled attention to detail and a deep level of concentration that enables them to excel in various fields. This intense focus can lead to miraculous achievements, particularly in art, music, mathematics, computer programming, and scientific research. Their ability to fully immerse themselves in their passions often results in groundbreaking discoveries, innovative creations, and exceptional problem-solving skills like Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison, whose mother allowed Edison to quit school at a very young age and gave him the time and space to discover. Even Bill Gates, the 49th President of the United States and computer programmer of Microsoft, and the enforceable young Greta Thunberg, the Swedish environmental activist known for challenging world leaders to take immediate action for climate change mitigation.
You already know that autism can amplify sensory experiences, allowing individuals to perceive the world in ways many may not comprehend. While some people may find certain sensory stimulation overwhelming, those on the autism spectrum often possess a heightened sensitivity. But did you know that this allows them to appreciate the subtle nuances of their surroundings? This enhanced sensory perception can lead to extraordinary expression, as individuals on the spectrum may excel in visual arts, music, dance, or other creative outlets that showcase their unique perspective and appreciation for the world around them that most of us don’t have.
But… if the shoe doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit!! Right!?! Go bare feet!!!
Let me explain why they are not missing puzzle pieces, and we, as parents, are not the ones that need to put their pieces back together. Autism is also often associated with a refreshing level of honesty and authenticity. People on the spectrum tend to express their thoughts and feelings without filters, allowing genuine interactions and connections to those who accept them for who they truly are. This authenticity is a beautiful reminder of the importance of embracing our true selves and accepting others for who they are rather than forcing them to see things that society and institutions believe they should see. The candid and direct communication style of individuals may appear “rude” or “arrogant” to the ones that are closed-minded and call it “politeness,” especially here in Canada, and are not open to what society calls “different.” Changing my views made me a better parent and a better person who can foster meaningful relationships built on trust and sincerity. I trusted my son knew what was right for him. I changed my perspectives and how I talked to him and not for him (for example, if someone asked his name, I stopped saying it for him. One day, he spoke up and said he preferred to be called his full name Cameron, not Cam or Camie). I also changed how I viewed my son’s capabilities and allowed him to have all the time and space he needed to work on his strengths and talents without pushing him into shoes three sizes too small! This was not easy. There were lots of attempts by Professionals trying to persuade me, even tricking me into putting my son into foster care while hiding behind the words “respite.”
I am not here to sugarcoat anything. Raising a child isn’t easy; raising individuals like my son comes with a lot of self-sacrifices, and to be their full-time cheerleader while still keeping your household in tack! I found ways to work around his needs. I had a home daycare for eleven years. Then he outgrew having “children” around the house, so I tried to return to work with failed attempts, as he and my daughter are my priority. I began my home business, a little online shop is still in progress, but it’s worth it. Because society needs our children, they can often possess unconventional thinking patterns and problem-solving skills that offer fresh and innovative solutions to complex challenges. Their unique cognitive processes allow them to approach problems from different angles, thinking outside the shoe box and bringing a new dimension to the table. Embracing and integrating these diverse problem-solving methods can lead to breakthroughs in various fields, inspiring creativity and promoting progress that can contribute to our community and bring joy to many people.
Contrary to popular misconceptions, individuals with autism can exhibit a sense of empathy and compassion. They may not show it by giving hugs, a concerned facial expression, or what we think is a thoughtful gift. But they will be the high school kid sitting at the bake sale till every last cupcake or cookie is sold to raise money for a hockey team that lost their lives in an accidental crash, even if it takes a few days! They will find that missing book you thought you lost ages ago and place it where you will find it. They may struggle with recognizing and expressing emotions in conventional ways. They still possess deep empathy, allowing them to understand and connect with others. Their unique perspective can lead to heightened sensitivity and consideration for the feelings and experiences of those around them, fostering a more compassionate society. They may require assistance in self-care or other areas of their daily life, but that is not a limitation of who they are or what they can accomplish in their life. It’s just a different way.
Autism is a magnificent part of the human tapestry, contributing its own vibrant colors and patterns. By embracing neurodiversity and appreciating the strengths and talents of individuals on the autism spectrum, we can create a world that celebrates every individual’s unique abilities and contributions. Let us remember that diversity is not a challenge to overcome but an opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive together. Through acceptance, understanding, and support, we can unlock the full potential of autistic individuals and witness the extraordinary beauty of autism in all its glory. Autism doesn’t need an Autism Awareness Day. It needs acceptance every single day with an open heart and an open mind.
I will tell you what they won’t. Don’t be shy to ask questions and subscribe for more positive parenting wisdom. Take care for now, and remember you matter as well. I see you are trying your best and need a little push that you are doing all that you can! All your hard work and sacrifice is worth it.