World Autism Awareness Day
On the heels of a triplet birthday celebration comes something the world focuses on that we have to deal with on a day-to-day basis: autism. So while we are celebrating milestones and remembering how far we have come, we are reminded that there is still many miles to go, so to speak, for our Theodore and all the other kids out there who fall on the spectrum.
This day can be hard to deal with… you hear all about others and how they are succeeding, how they are communicating, how they are thriving…and your excited and filled with hope. Then you look at your ASD child and wonder, what about him (or her)? On the other hand, and I feel more and more this way now that we’ve been diagnosed for a few years, is this overwhelming feeling of comfort as you realize that you are not alone. You are never alone. But on this day the world lights it up blue for autism and everyone seems to be paying attention.
That is until the next damaging media story gets out, or someone suggests autism is because our kids are spoiled, or that parents with kids who are autistic are just part of a fad and want attention.
Right. Tell that to me in person. Let me tell you all about this “fad.”
More than Me
We cannot be happier with everything that Theodore has accomplished and is trying to do. He has come such a long way at school and is trying his best to let us know what he needs. He’s trying to use the potty. He’s making more eye contact. He’s playing anticipatory games. He is loving his musical toys. (And he is eyeing this keyboard right now. A year ago he wouldn’t be interested in this.)
And we are venturing out more and more to try new things with him like going to dinner at Wegman’s, going to Dunkin Donuts with the girls for Saturday breakfast with daddy only, going to outdoor events…a little at a time. And we’re finding he’s willing to do this more, and explore more, as long as we know his boundaries and don’t push him too much.
And then there are the times when venturing out is just a failure (see here).
But we don’t know until we try. And we really don’t know how he will react unless we give him a chance. After all, he should be seen as a child first, not as a diagnosis first.
Louder than Words
And, yes, it’s true that I yearn to hear him say “mommy” or “daddy,” but the truth is his actions speak louder and truer than any words can. He giggles and laughs and screams when he’s happy. He makes all kinds of noises and who’s to say he won’t say those words at some point? Theodore is a great judge of character and he’s as loyal as they come and if something is wrong he comes to us, or to his teachers, or to his sitter.
And isn’t that what we all really want…someone to comfort us in our time of need, whatever that need may be?
So the day after the official awareness day, in the month devoted to autism, all I ask is that you give my kid, and kids like Theodore, a chance. Theo may not be verbal, but he can hear fine and he remembers just as well.
After all, you should never judge a book by its cover. You should never underestimate what an autistic person can do.
Alexia Conrad, 39, is mom to 5-year-old girl-boy-girl triplets, Gretchen, Theodore and Olena. She and her husband tried for more than a year to get pregnant without assistance but a hormonal imbalance meant she could not do it without help. While they waited they talked about the future family: she wanted one, Rob wanted two, they got three. Gretchen, Theodore and Olena were born at 28 weeks and spent an average of three months in the NICU. The children are healthy however Theodore has been diagnosed with Autism. Alexia shares her story of how they get by day by day, and accept life as it comes, at mylifeintriplicate.wordpress.com. Oh, and — yes, they both work full time out of the home. Laugh, cry, pull your hair out… and learn more about us and our day-to-day goings on in Canastota, N.Y.