My five-year-old son, Lucas, has an Autism spectrum disorder. He was diagnosed at three years old with PDD-NOS, which basically means he has a form of Autism that cannot be categorized in the other four forms. At the time, the diagnosis hit me like a ton of bricks. As a mother, I wanted my child perfect. Happy, healthy, and normal. It was probably the biggest blow that I have ever experienced as a parent. Millions of thoughts raced through my mind. How will this affect him? How will he live in this world where perfection is paramount? What will people do to him/say to him/ how will they make him feel?
Thankfully, he has a really mild case. His speech is garbled, and he has to repeat himself many times for strangers, teachers, and kids to understand him. He doesn’t like to be touched. He likes his things neat, and orderly. He has special people that he is connected to, and others he wants no part of. And, when his routine is broken, he goes haywire. Watching him grow, and watching these behaviors grow with him is sometimes heartbreaking.
I’d like to say that I’ve dealt with this as a human being, and as a parent. But, that would be a lie. I’m still dealing with it. I don’t care what people think of me, or say about me. I’m a big girl. But, when it’s my child, look out! I broke down and bawled the first time a kid in his kindergarten class called him stupid. I’ll always be afraid for him in this crazy world. What is being different going to do to him?
Then, I realized that he’s ok, it’s the world that wrong. He’s a good kid. He may have issues, but he has a heart of gold. Most people with special needs do. I think it’s because they know that the world looks at them like there is something wrong with them, and they are extra nice, or special, to compensate for that. That’s how many people take advantage of them. That just sickens me.
I realized that I’m GLAD he’s different. I’m glad that this little boy will go out of his way to pick me flowers. I’m glad that he will skip going to get a toy, to go visit his grandpa that had knee surgery. I’m glad that he will stop playing to make sure the baby is ok when she cries. I hope to God that this world doesn’t beat that kindness out of him. We call people with disabilities, “special needs cases.” However, maybe we should call people without disabilities special needs cases. After all, a special needs person doesn’t need to be reminded to be kind. Regular people do!