I see so much of myself in my son. It's not just a looks thing. It's an attitude. It's a personality. Hell, maybe it's even some of that autism of his I'm always talking about.
This autism. I'm not just thinking it's his alone anymore. I'm really seeing more and more of my childhood through him. Now don't go thinking I'm just being dramatic or trying to corner the market of his neurology. I can't help but see what's in front of me and I don't seem to have the social filter to keep it to myself any longer. I don't know if I am on the Spectrum but I do know I relate to what he goes through quite a bit.
My eye contact? Sucks. It physically pains me to do it, even with people I know. A stranger? I look at their hair or their neck. I never started to realize that this might be what my son feels till the past few years. So, I don't give him too much heck about looking anyone in the eyes. I'd deck someone if they told me to look them in the eyes. Why should I make him?
Black and white thinking? Yep! This has been a huge problem for me in relationships. You cross me once? Dead to me. I always chalked that up to a stubborn streak of Irish breeding but now, yeah the the black and white thinking isn't so black and white to me anymore. So maybe Kiddo's ALL IN obsessing on a person out of nowhere is kind of like me when I meet a new person and Facebook stalk every single thing in their profiles. (Now all my Facebook friends are clicking "Block" next to my name.) You post 75 new photos of your vacation. I'm looking at all of them. You share an article on a view point I hate. I have a panic attack wondering how I let you into my life and now I have to hide you from my feed so you no longer break my heart. That's kind of extreme.
Sensory issues? Oh Baby, I have those in spades. I hate wearing shoes which is weird because I love looking at shoes. Wearing them for longer than an hour, I start to hate my life. Clothing? I hate jeans. They feel rough and hard to me. I'm watch my kiddo twirl his hair and while I am doing the same exact thing. His eating issues aren't just about taste. It's texture and that's exactly like me. I have been labeled a picky eater and I find myself resenting it. It's not because I'm just fussy and neither is he. So, I have a lot of sympathy with my Kiddo when a texture combo just freaks him the Hell out. I find myself talking him through a bite like a coach. "Sip some water. Wash it down. Take a breath. You're okay."
What really started sealing the deal for me is when the Kiddo's former teacher introduced him to typing as handwriting was just not happening. ("Handwriting without Tears" my ass!) My handwriting also is the stuff of legends. It BLOWS. My visual tracking stinks and so does his. She went with typing and OH MY GOD! The words are now flying out of him now. His reading, spelling and speaking have all improved. He is able to express himself typing in ways I never dreamed. One of his favorite thing to do is to sit down and write a letter to someone and I get to see all the stuff that is going on in his brain.
Writing a letter...blogging. Not too different is it? ;-)
This blog has helped folks understand him a bit better and perhaps now even me. It is impossible for me to ask for help or talk about the real nitty gritty deep emotional stuff that comes with this life. Yet, I sit in front of this blog and just let it hang out. When someone I know reads it and wants to talk about it? Oy vey, I get so tongue tied, I can barely get the words out. (I've noticed most folks text me now. Maybe they've figured that is easier for me too.)
The more I think about what I grew up with and what I saw the Kiddo doing as a baby, the more I think it was right there in front of me. I never saw it as a red flag. Here I am thinking "Well I did that so..." I once had a neurologist ask us if we had an "quirky" family members and it never dawned on me to say that I was one of them.
When you go through forty something years of life being told your neurology is one way, it's really strange to think about it being another. I still don't know if it is. I haven't been tested or screened for it. I"m not sure if I ever will go for formal diagnosing as I really don't need it to prove what I know about myself. Perhaps if I worked outside the home I might just in case I needed some proof for accommodations. As my "Boss" has autism, The Kiddo is pretty cool with understanding my quirks. Of course, there are times when our sensory needs battle each other. (Aka his need to play the stereo, iPad and TV all at once versus my need to use the blender without him having a screaming raging meltdown.) We'll figure it out though. We always do. I'm just going to embrace the idea that maybe I understand him better than I thought I did. I want him to know "Hey Kiddo, Mama gets it. Maybe not all of it but more than you think."
At least we both agree about ordering another side of fries.
And I'm betting if you are reading this now, you might be thinking you relate to your kiddo more than you thought. Maybe that apple didn't fall far from the quirky tree? ;-)