As a parent of a child affected by Autism I follow a few Autism parent blogs. As anyone knows, knowing that others out there are dealing with issues similar to yours helps get through the day sometimes. I sometimes write about what I call our adventures in Autism but those posts are few and far between. I only write about such a personal part of my life when I really think it will help further understanding of Autism. I leave the daily Autism posts to the experts whom I’ve grown to love.
I notice, though, that many of the blogs focus on the cuteness and charming characteristics of their kids, mixed in with a bit of the reality of the gravity of the situation. I understand the tendency. It is easier and more therapeutic to address the positives rather than dwell on the negatives. I notice it more now, because I see what happens when kids with Autism develop into teenagers and young adults. It is more complicated and sometimes leads to seriously grave situations.
As Autistic kids enter puberty the hormones coursing through their bodies often exacerbate the challenges they already face. Anxiety worsens, social awkwardness becomes more obvious and paralyzing, and the children become more set apart from their peers.
My son, too, was a unique, sweet and quirky little kid. It was fun to focus on the fact that he could remember exact dates of obscure events and push his toy fire truck back and forth for an hour. His public tantrums were easy to dismiss because he was small and tantrums are normal for all little kids, once in a while. This was in the days before blogs, so I talked about the good and bad with my husband and family but it ended there.
Now, he is a unique, sweet and quirky teenager. At 14, a young man, the behaviors are less cute and more obviously not “typical.” We handle it all and help him adapt to school and new situations and provide a comfortable, safe place for him to nest at home. If I write about it, it is to help other people understand what it is like for an individual and his family to live with Autism. It’s not so cute anymore, it is raw and real and every day is a reminder that the future is closer than we might realize and we have to be prepared for what it brings. We have to think about how our son will develop and adapt and what kind of life he will lead as an adult. I fully expect him to go to college and get a job that interests him. I hope he will find a supportive friend or two to help him along the way.
So, when I see my compatriots in the world of Autism families writing about the adorable actions of their little ones or how the store clerk reacted when their 7 year old seemed to overreact to a disappointmentI wonder if the blog will fade into cyberspace when the child is no longer small enough to be deemed charming.
I hope these wonderful scribes will continue their writing so that the world can see the reality of our kids’ journey into adulthood and grow to understand the challenges that face our kids every day. But, I wonder.