My Son is Autistic
My son is Autistic.
For years, I would never talk about it. It was too hard, too emotional. If I found myself in a position of needing to disclose his diagnosis to a teacher or a doctor, I would be in tears admitting it aloud. Every time I told a family member or a trusted friend, I would sob through getting the words out.
It was difficult for me because I knew I loved him so much. I had no shame in who he was, regardless of what professionals wanted to call him. But what would society say? How would they treat him? What would they allow for his future? Questions like that overwhelmed me. The life I had imagined for him was gone. The son I thought I had was replaced by someone else who was suddenly stripped of acceptance, opportunity and success. Months of grieving ensued and I was a total mess.
That was three years ago, and now my mindset has shifted completely. Enough time has passed that I've been able to begin reflecting on the journey that is being the mom of an Autistic child. I want my son to embrace Autism not as his identity, but as an important part of who he is. If I can't open up how can I expect people to show that part of him compassion? If I'm not willing to let people in a little, isn't that a self fulfilling prophecy of shutting down opportunities for him? To be honest, I still don't disclose his diagnosis unless it's on a need to know basis. I am still really scared that he will be put in a box. Worried that people will see him only as Autistic, and that will cast a shadow over all of his capabilities. The act of writing and publishing this post publicly actually kind of terrifies me.But after a lot of reflection, I've started to open up. I've been sharing my story in tiny bits and pieces with the people around me. From those experiences I've started to realize that by being honest and vulnerable about what I'm going through, I can help others. That is so meaningful to me. There have been many things that have helped me get to where I am now, but none more than the stories of others who have lived through a similar experience. If you're going through something similar, know that you are not alone. I'm here for you.
Disclaimer: The autism spectrum is broad, and everyone's experience with it is different. I am sharing my story. In doing so, I am in no way trying to diminish the experience of others.