Parenting a Child with Autism
Early this morning, at about 2:00 AM, my son climbed into bed with us. Unlike other mornings, I was aware of this because I was awake, though normally I don't notice him climbing into bed with us. There was no sound, no crying, just a quick jump, flip under the covers, and he was out like a light on my pillow.
Later this morning, as my son woke up earlier than usual, he started to dance around and play with the dog. After a few calls for him to get dressed, he looked into my eyes for a second and smiled, his giggle infectious and infuriating, as he doesn't do as I ask for the fourth time this morning. I help him on with his shirt, hand him his pants, and he gets dressed.
While I'm still trying to get ready for work myself, I savor the eye contact. That shining moment that acknowledges my son's affection for me, and his acceptance of me in his life. It's fleeting, because of my son's Autism. It's savored because I'm one of a handful of adults with whom he will share eye contact.
Parenting is a scary business. It's full of stress as you worry about how your child will grow up and impact the world. Some parents take it easy and just expect their children to do well. When they don't, they look for scapegoats for causes and blame the world (or at least their teachers). Other parents are the diligent type, dedicated to giving their children the best of everything so they will excel in the world and bring honor and glory to the family name. Either way, there is stress, and it's put some people off having children at all, let alone more than one.
Autism is also very scary, in that no one knows what causes it or how it impacts the child's learning. Children can range on the Spectrum from very low functional (highly autistic with low IQ) to very high functioning (often Aspergers, with high IQ and mild Autism), so advice from parenting doesn't work. Generalities can be given, but the devil is truly in the details as you as a parent work to find a way to connect with your child consistently.Continued on the next page