Saturday, May 28, 2005

Dear Noah:

I have been reading and writing back to another woman online who has a 9 year old son with Asperger's syndrome. He was only diagnosed a year ago. Course his diagnosis is questionable and while she continues to believe it is Asperger's syndrome I still wonder if it is straight out autism. Her son has a speech delay and has had problems with speech and kids with Asperger's usually don't. But that is here nor there. The issue Noah is this. As she writes more and more in her journal it becomes more and more clear to me at least that she seems to be in denial still about her son and does not want to accept his diagnosis as just part of him and who he is. She has not told her son anything about his diagnosis so he continues to feel frustrated and not understand why he does some of the things he does sometimes. She continues to keep calling him "normal with some quirks" and trust me...any child on the spectrum is not a "neurotypical person (aka normal) " as autistics call "us". They are indeed different in many ways. I personally don't see anything wrong with that but I am getting the impression this mom does. She continues to try to place her son into so many "normal and social" activities that he seems to be overloaded now as he is losing interest in playing baseball all the time or doing some of the other things he has always been doing. SO many clubs and outings he is involved in. I know how easy you can get overloaded as any child can who is on the spectrum. To me this sounds like way too much. She would deny it of course and just say "her son is high functioning and is normal and can and always has done all these things before....etc...etc...etc."

Meanwhile he continues to have problems and emotional instability especially recently. He is approaching that age where kids can be very cruel and start to notice when another child is "different" and will move their own way and leave their former friend in the dust. This mom has kept her son's diagnosis so private that it almost sounds like she is ashamed of it. And by her continuing to pretend her son is normal by involving him in so many extracurricular activities and such, is only fooling herself in the long run. I imagine her son will continue to change and become more noticeably different. It always seems to happen and even if they are mainstreamed. SO I told her I felt he might be at that age where he would "want" to know what is wrong with him so he could better understand why he does some of the things he does sometimes. Course she disagrees with that completely and I wonder if her son will ever know about his disorders.

I just always hope and pray I can show you that no matter what disorders you face in your lifetime that you are still very much OKAY and WONDERFUL and a fully abled body person! You will be about as "normal" as anyone else out here trust me!! I don't find it necessary to smash you into the same socially acceptable mold that everyone else thinks you must fit into to make it in society. I KNOW you will be successful and able to make it in our world. I want to let YOU pick some things YOU might be interested in doing and do them. I don't want to stick you into things to keep you busy but perhaps you are not interested in...just to keep you social and active and blended in with everyone else. You are usually in total misery inside when we try to get you to do things you really cannot handle.

SO I just pray that this other mom opens her eyes and begins to see what she is doing. I think she is placing so many expectations on her son to be "normal" that he is beginning to fall behind and probably senses he is letting MOMMY down. This puts even more pressure on him. Can I tell her this? No...she won't read it let alone have the words sink in to maybe realize they could possibly be true and make some changes. I pray I never turn into that type of mom. I pray you will always know I ACCEPT you JUST THE WAY YOU ARE and in fact cannot imagine ever having you any other way! I KNOW and trust YOU as you are SO IN TUNE with your own body and well being. I KNOW you will make good choices and be successful in your lifetime. AND IF you struggle I will be there to help pick you back up and set you back down on the right path.

This is another reason why I personally think it is best you are homeschooled. A lot of the things the other mom's son is starting to experience in school is what eventually happens to any child who is "different". Kids can be kids and be very very cruel and mean. It is counter-productive I think to continually force a child to be exposed to that. Here at home you are praised and given confidence that in the public school setting they seemed to tear down. It was like they were trying to break your spirit and MAKE YOU BECOME like the rest of them. Sorry but I will never let that happen.

Some day you may very well be able to handle school in a public setting. But if not so what. I have talked to so many autistic adults who now looking back wish they could have somehow avoided the public school setting altogether too. They basically went through hell especially in middle school years and high school years.

So Noah please always know I love you for YOU and you don't have to be a certain way for me to love you any more than I possibly do now. You don't have any magic numbers of activities to be involved in. You don't have to blend in so well with all the other kids you are never noticed as being different. You don't always have to STOP being YOU because you are too loud in public or around family members. You don't have to act or look a certain way to be accepted by me and your daddy. There is no criteria you have to MEET. Just be you!

I will love you forever,



Chris said...

Noah is very very lucky to have a Mommy like you Melinda!

I don't know much about Autism and exactly what it is. I just know about it from what I read on here. But does that go away as he gets older or is it a lifetime disease(not even sure if you categorize it as a disease).

I am sure I have come across a child or two that may have had autism not even sure...I have babysat so many kids since I was 13 up to about 3 years ago since I moved down south. I know some of the signs you mentioned sounded a lot like one little girl I used to watch but just thought it was normal sorta. Her Mom never said anything to me.

Like I said I don't know much about it but feel for your son and other children out there. I know Noah will be fine as long as he has parents like yourselves that care and love him as much as you do.

As far as being homeschooled...I so agree with homeschooling. I always say to my husband if I ever decide to have a child of my own someday...!?!?...I seriously think I would homeschool them. No matter if the child is different or not I would still do it.

Hopefully that other Mom will come around...I am sure it is hard because you want to say so much to her but at the same time you try to hold on to the friendship. You may be good for her though by you telling her about Noah.

Be strong!!

Melinda said...

I will post a note that tells more about autism rather than try to explain it all here. But is something that has no cure and does not go away as he gets older...though he can learn how to cope and not have as many obvious symptoms over time. Most adult autistics I talk to don't want to change though either and don't like being told they need a cure. They are very defensive about that..hahah. They like themselves as they are and actually see us as the ones who are abnormal.