This is my initial response to the notion that my son might be autistic. He has yet to be diagnosed, and his diagnosis is not the point of this piece. Instead this is more about my process as a mother. I began to feel immense guilt and even began to wish that the condition would have been mine and not my son’s. I share this experience as I do not feel that I am alone as a mother in these feelings. My love for my son remains strong and since writing this, I have grown more aware and sensitive to his needs; autistic or not.
If you are interested in learning more about Autism, specifically, I have provided a link to an interesting Psychology Today article, here.
“We think your son has autism,” they said.
“No, not MY son,” was my immediate response.
Rip my heart out,
throw it in a blender,
dry the mash in the hot desert sun,
scatter the remains.
Innocence stripped in an instant,
As what I imagined his life would be changed just as quickly.
Mourning begins quickly after the denial fades and the signs light up in Neon.
“The evidence is strong” they say.
Perhaps this is true.
Tears, hot and fast, flow like lava down the mountains of my swollen cheeks.
The guilt is next to arrive, crashing like a wave upon the delicate shore of my psyche.
Where did I go wrong?
Was it the fever he had? Maybe if I had given him Tylenol sooner…
Was it the allergic reaction to something at the sitter’s? Maybe if I had not worked that day…
Was it letting him watch too much TV with his sister? Maybe if I had played more and cleaned/cooked/worked less…
Yet the evidence to the contrary is just as strong.
“I love you, mama,” he often says at the drop of a hat.
Showered with “big, big hugs and big, big kisses,” I ponder, how can this be?
Time to do something different? Change of clothes? Change of venue? Change of anything: he instantly digs his heels in.
The quirks may be more than just quirks…
So if this is true,
then put me on the spectrum, too.
The signs that they identify in him,
I can just as easily see in myself:
Socks in a twist cannot be dismissed.
Task to finish: no time for anything else, even play.
Public speaking, “a performance” is easier than personal heart-to-heart conversations.
(While written communication is easier still than anything that requires speaking.)
Transitions are tough: really, who likes change?
Preference for 1 or 2 close friends vs trying to be friends with everyone.
Yep, that is me, too.
The denial rises up again,
cresting like a wave.
I’d much rather bear the burden of his potential diagnosis than for him to have to.
With so many signs lighting up like Neon upon review,
No, not my son, but maybe his mother.