Saturday, August 6, 2011

Day By Day

Today, after I dropped my kids off at day camp, I sat in the car and watched them for a few minutes.
My daughter immediately sat with her friends and began making yet another friendship bracelet. Her summer has been devoted to making hundreds of thousands of friendship bracelets as she's determined to single-handedly bring them back in style.
But it wasn't my daughter I was worried about. No, it was my son. He threw his backpack down and ran full force into a pack of boys and they started running and jumping and climbing all over each other as boys tend to do.
And this simple moment in time and the normalcy of that event filled me with such a deep sense of happiness, contentment and gratitude that I couldn't help but smile.
Just three days before, I had preoccupied myself with worries that his symptoms had returned in full force. You see, my son has autism and for the most part, he copes very well. Granted, his is mildly affected and has made such tremendous strides that if you were to meet him you might think I had lost my mind to insinuate that he has autism.
In fact, I've had many a person look right at me and swear that he has been misdiagnosed. These people were not around when he rocked in a corner for six months straight.
Rest assured he still carries his diagnosis and his father and I still notice things that are lost on most everyone else. For example, last week I noticed that when I picked him up from camp every day he was running around the playground pretending to be a dinosaur. For him, this kind of repetetive play is his kind of stimming. This is a behavior done to self-soothe when things get a little too much to handle.
That in itself doesn't sound like a big deal but when he gets into that mode it's like the whole world shuts off. Again, doesn't sound like much. But what if I told you that one day my son was a normal little boy playing pretend and the next day he had fallen so deep into that pit of make believe that I didn't see him or speak to him for nearly two years?
It took him that long to come out of the haze and it took us that long to reach him. So, I do tend to get a little worried when he dives head first into fantasy. When he does this at home, I often test him with questions or interaction to make sure he's still there, still with us.
He hasn't given me any real reason to worry but I'm his mother and I can't help it. I called a friend of mine who specializes in teaching children with autism and she assured me that he's fine. So long as his pretend play doesn't interfere with his ability to interact with others and doesn't affect his quality of life, he's probably fine.
She's right. He's probably fine. In fact, I know he's fine. He's doing great and so great, in fact, that I keep waiting for the bubble to burst. I have faith that my boy is headed in the right direction and we're doing everything we need to do to keep him on the right track but that doesn't always soothe my fears.
But I tell you, seeing him run and play and be "normal" — whatever that is — is exactly what I needed to remind myself that for today, he is perfectly fine.  Austism will always be a part of our lives but today was a really good day.

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