Over thirty years ago, my eldest son was diagnosed with autism. Well, not exactly “autism” but he was close enough to have the doctor tell us if we needed him to be officially “autistic” to get services, that’s what he would call him. He’s now, a string of DSMs later, officially “Autistic,” so that’s that.
Before the diagnosis, our friends and family tut-tutted about his development–he wasn’t talking so we must not be talking to him enough. He had trouble making eye contact so there must be something we were doing–or not doing–to cause it. He rocked and banged his head and stayed awake for days and smeared feces–my fault, my fault. And most of all, it was my fault. No one else in either of our families had trouble with their babies, so it must be me. Me. Me. Me. And their criticisms weren’t about me, I was told, but about my First Born–so my feelings being hurt, well, too bad.
After we got the diagnosis–Pervasive Developmental Delay, NOS with autistic tendencies–I thought I would be vindicated. Nope. That’s when the real criticisms started. And our families withdrew from anything having to do with us. There were no Mamas, Grannies, Aunties, Sisters or Cousins who could relate to having a child with differences, or REAL differences, so there was no help or compassion for me or my husband. We were called selfish for having other children. And those children turned out to be GIFTED so we truly were on our own.
Many times during those early years, I wished for what all my friends with neuro-typical children had–a circle of older parents and family I could sit around the kitchen table with and talk about my children. Instead of criticism, I would get understanding. If something seemed odd to me, I would be reassured it was normal. And someone would occasionally tell me I was doing a good job.
I have made many Autism Friends through the years as a former Autism Society of America local chapter president. But Son #1 was in Junior High by that time and when I had really, really needed a Sis or a Cuz or an Auntie to hold my hand or help me–literally–get through the night, it was too late. I was coping very well, thank-you-very-much, without that Circle of Family I had wished for.
Recently, I thought it might be nice to BE that Mama or Granny or Auntie or Sis or Cuz I had envisioned three decades ago and decided to start this Blog. Maybe I could help all those young parents still finding their way. Maybe I could give someone hope to know it gets better (or easier) and you CAN have an intact marriage and your NT Kids WON’T be screwed up (too badly LOL!) and maybe your career will be okay if you only work part-time or……….you fill in the blank.
So, pull up a chair. Pour yourself a cuppa and sit down. Relax. Your Autism Cuppa is waiting for you right here.