Friday, February 26, 2010

but...sometimes Autism Rocks!!!!

I want to apologise for my last blog. I know it was all true and written from the heart, but it was a bit depressing. I'm a really optimistic person, to a fault sometimes. My brother once told me that if he lost a leg, I'd say "Ah well, at least you've still got the other one!". It's not that I'm unsympathetic, I just can't help myself! Things can always be worse!

So I've decided to rectify the situation. Because, yes, sometimes autism sucks, but often it ROCKS!
I've been thinking a lot of the positive things that autism brings to our lives, and here's what I've come up with:

Button will never be embarrassed or think it's not cool to give me kisses and hugs. He could not care less about what others think of him, so shows no reluctance to throw his arms around me and kiss me as only he can! Usually by pressing his forehead into my face!

I will never have to worry about him keeping up with the latest trends. No peer pressure for my little man!

He doesn't want the latest game console or gadget (though he does love his/my iTouch). He is completely happy with his baby toys. If it makes a noise or flashes a light, Button is entranced. I stopped buying him the things I thought he should like years ago. This year Santa brought him squirty bath toys! Big success!

Every small achievement is significant and cause for celebration. We rejoice in him and never put too much pressure on him. His happiness is our ultimate goal.

He sees the good in everybody. He is not cynical or jaded or critical of others. To Button the world is full of good people.

He still thinks that Mr Taz and I are absolutely hilarious! We don't get the rolling of the eyes and the "Oh Muuuuuuuum!" that so many of my friends with children of the same age experience.

He has made me a better person. 'Nuff said on that really! No need to explain, you all know what I mean.

So you see, even though we have our down days and times when life seems unbelievably unfair, we also have so much to be grateful for. Time to count our blessings, I think! Oh, I can't believe I nearly forgot the most important one.....we get to skip the queues in Disneyland!!!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sometimes Autism sucks!

Recently we decided that Button would not be making his First Communion this year (or any other year, in all probability). It wasn't exactly a tough decision, but it did open up a bit of a Pandora's Box of emotions that I had thought had been firmly laid to rest.

As I have mentioned before, I am not particularly religious. I believe in a higher power, but I'm not a huge fan of organised religion. I think if you're a good person and treat others with respect and dignity, well, that should be enough for anyone's God. But Communion is more than a religious event. it's what 8 year old boys like Button should be doing! A rite of passage, that was part of my vision for the future for him in the days, months and years before he came home. I have very happy memories of my communion day, and quite simply I wanted the same for him.

In the run up to a child's First Communion, there are 5 or 6 special masses arranged where the children all sit together and do the readings and prayers of the faithful. Two weeks ago we went off to mass, fully prepared with his favourite small toys, sweets and the promise of the iTouch for being quiet. It was a disaster. He was poking the lady beside us, shouting and trying to escape from his seat. After about 10 minutes (that felt like 10 hours) we decided enough was enough and made a hasty retreat to the car, with Button kicking and hitting various members of the congregation as he made his way up the aisle.

As I sat in the car waiting for Mr Taz and Belle, I just knew that Button was not ready for this. He simply cannot cope with crowds, and having to sit still for any length of time. And suddenly I was sobbing, as it hit me just how much his autism affects him and us as a family.

We go through our daily life thinking that Button is doing great (which he is), basking in the lovely comments that have been coming home in his Book recently and loving his funny, quirky nature. We live in a little autism bubble. This is our world and we know no different. As Belle grows up, we're getting glimpses of the "other world", but for the main part we potter along thinking everything is going to plan.

Then Wham! one day something hits you, and you realise that you're not as ahead of the game as you think you are. The difference between Button and his peers is remarkable. I watched those little boys and girls sitting quietly with just the odd giggle and murmur of chat. Their hands piously joined in complete innocence and joy, fully aware of the importance of the day they were preparing for, and my heart broke.

I'm generally a very optimistic, positive person. but that day I grieved for all the things Button will never enjoy. Birthday parties, trips to museums, pantomimes, playing football on the street with his mates, these things that you dream about and imagine your little boy doing. They are not part of his life, and in all probability never will be. It sucks.

He is the happiest, most innocent little soul I have ever known. He doesn't care one bit about those things. And 99% of the time, neither do I. I am not at all bothered about the actual communion, it's just a very stark reminder that life with Button is always going to be different from how we had pictured it to be.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The not-so-invisible Woman!

I'm not the kind of gal who likes to be the centre of attention. I'm very happy to let others take centre stage and just enjoy their reflected glory. But I've discovered in the past few years that I tend to attract a bit of attention when I go out with my children.

All adoptive families have numerous stories about things that people have said to them about their children. It's all part of the territory. We cannot chose who we share the information that Button and Belle are adopted with. It's as plain as the nose on your face! Or in our case, as plain as two very cute, non Caucasian noses! But for some reason this seems to give people the idea that they have a right to ask us the most personal and intrusive questions imaginable.

Most people mean well, and I always assume that they are asking me questions because of a genuine interest. Often people will tell me that their sister /friend/neighbour/second cousin twice removed, has adopted or is in the process, and I'm always happy to talk about it in general. But I will not share my kid's personal stories with anyone other than my kids! Their stories are theirs alone, to share with whom they choose, when they decide.

I have had some great comments though! Like the lady who asked me if Button's "other mother" was young. Because, she thought, he looks like he had a young mother! As opposed to the knackered, worn out one he's been lumbered with, I guess! And the very enthusiastic young woman who came running up to me squealing "Oooooooh! He's gorgeous! What is he?" Ummm, a baby?

Only one time have I ever been offended, and that was by a mature lady who pointed accusingly at Belle and said "That's not your baby"! When I said she was, her response was "well her Daddy must be Chinese so!". Her face when I told her that he was, in fact, from Westmeath, was a picture. You've got to take your pleasure where you can in this life!

My children know where they were born, and that we adopted them. They know what their names were before they became Button and Belle, and they know that they grew in another lady's tummy and that she loved them very much. Surely this is enough for other people to know too?