My Son, Autism and Me
It happened three years ago. We gathered in a big room; my wife, me and several other professional bodies to discuss the behaviours and thought processes of Alex. We had suspected he had Autism since he was a year old. The repetitive behaviour, the blinkered thinking, it all added up. And that’s when he received his diagnosis. On the Autistic spectrum. And he’s been Autistic since he was three. We would have had it diagnosed earlier but apparently beforehand it’s too young to tell.
So now you may be thinking that we have a mammoth task and uphill struggle for the rest of our lives but it’s quite the contrary actually. Having Alex as a little Autistic chappy has been incredibly eye opening and therapeutic for me. Why? Because now I don’t feel alone in my thinking. You see, I think I have Autism too. Perhaps on the Aspergers side of the spectrum; like I assume my Father had.
I occasionally have these incredibly blinkered must-do moments where I can only describe it as a powerful rush of blood to my brain where I “Need” to do [whatever], and sometimes to the detriment of my own safety. I’ve managed to control these feelings since I’ve become older and wiser however I used to think everyone had them. Apparently not. And I first observed it in Alex when he was about three. You see, when Alex “needs” to do something, there is literally no stopping him. And, of course we could stop him, but there would be a massive battle on our hands. I’ve learned to pick my battles over his childhood. Is it really worth stopping him doing something that would take two minutes and is generally safe? No. The last time I tried we had an hour and a half long battle over something silly.
It’s opened my eyes actually. It’s helped me parent him differently. It’s helped me look into myself and think, “well, how would I feel about this?”. It’s helped me take on a different approach to everything we do around him. But it doesn’t end there, oh no. It’s increased my understanding about myself ten fold, and the unexpected reactions of others; I’ve grown to know that I’m probably not getting it right, and to think again.
And there’s the Anxiety; something we share in childhood. I suffered greatly from childhood anxiety. It was quite a barrier for me, and I think this played a huge part in my alcoholism. Feeling that I didn’t quite fit in with my peers, always the one skulking in the shadows of social events, never really taking the risks that I should have been at that age.
I see Alex as a little mini-me. And, as much as he’s going to be an awesome chappy when he’s older, he’s probably going to struggle a bit fitting in; if my life is anything to go by. I was a great adaptor though. I adapted, I learned to fit in with other peoples needs. I expect he will to. I just have to teach him appropriate boundaries. Boundaries are really good. People need them so they know how far they can go.
I love Alex; he’s opened my eyes to a wondrous new world. He’s empowered me to do things I never imagined I’d do. He’s helped me grow, understand him, and more importantly he’s his own little man. Which I really hope I can encourage him to be more of. If one thing that’s imperative that I teach him is how to be his own person. Be what he thinks he is and not what Society tells him he is.
And, all the best Scientists, Surgeons, Mathematicians and Artists are swaying on the Autistic scale. Go Alex!