Here we are, friends…#1! I won’t even mess around with an introduction. It’s that important.
#1: He notices
This is the one thing that would have changed this year the most, particularly the end of it.
You know all that talking you do? The on-the-phone stuff, the whispering with your husband, the discussing him right in front of him. He notices.
All the friends Nora visits. All the sports and camps she participates in that he doesn’t; he notices.
All the food people eat at parties that he doesn’t…he notices that, too.
And even if it doesn’t bother him yet, it will. So one of the best things you can do for him and for yourself is to be intentional about some things: how you talk to him (not about him or around him), the thought you put into his extracurricular activities, and the friends you invite over for him.
It sounds overwhelming, and I know you think you know this already, but Past Maura, if you work on this, you will save him many painfully frustrating moments in the future when he can’t stand it anymore and he wants to tell you, but can’t.
He wants to tell you that he wants friends. He wants to tell you that he loves parties and playing outside. He likes baking and decorating cookies and visiting his grandparents and riding his bike.
Those frustrations will only get bigger until he feels like he’s going crazy and just goes into what feels like permanent meltdown crisis mode.
And you and I both know that no one really knows who suffers more when a child suffers–the child himself, or the parent who doesn’t know how to make it stop for him.
So, remember when we talked about how important it is for you to connect to your people and remind yourself on the regular that you’re not alone?
You have to do this for your child, too.
He needs to know he’s got people, too. And actually, he also needs to know that people won’t always love him the way he thinks they should. And that his faith will enable him to continue in what is an exceptionally arduous struggle. Maybe it’s not a bad idea to have a counselor as part of your long-term action plan for him.
This whole series has been dedicated to building a foundation strong enough for you to stand up on. But he’s been standing there, too.
Now, he needs you to show him how to start building his own. Now that he’s noticing the difference between him and the rest of the world, he will need to have a way to cope with it.
A lot? Yep. Too much for a parent to be able to do? Maybe.
Can you do it? Absolutely.
I know this, because for all the worry and confusion and overwhelming mess that special needs parenting is, I also know that you would do *anything* for him. You’d find a way to sleep in a desk drawer if you thought it could help him. You’d subsist entirely on mud and cucumbers if you thought it could help him. You’d walk on your hands for a year if you thought it could help him.
You know me, Past Maura. We could do this all day.
The point is, you love your son more than you love your own comfort, and you will do what it takes. When you achieve it together, you’ll feel like it’s the biggest win of your life.
In the meantime, please, take care of yourself, because being a strong autism parent matters–both to you, and to the rest of your family.
Farewell, 2015! Birthday surprise tomorrow.