the second rule of autism club
I decided that as April – Autism Awareness Month in case you might have forgotten – draws to a close, that it was time to pull another ‘autism club’ rule together, as it has been a whole year since I wrote the first rule. I procrastinated over what would be the best choice for the second rule. As I scrolled through my random thoughts in the drafts folder, this one jumped out. And so, after some tweaking, I think it is ready to be shared here, on my blog, where it belongs.
The second rule of autism club.
Don’t forget to look back.
When you look back, you will see how far you’ve come, because if you only look forward, all you will ever see is half the picture.
One of the pitfalls of living with autism Every. Single. Day. is that it is easy to miss the progress until it beats me over the head. I so often get caught up in the worry, the planning, the preparation, the attempts at clairvoyance* to predict as much as humanly possible so we are as ready as we can be.
Then, something will happen, it might be small, it could be massive to remind me just how far my son (and the rest of us) has come in this journey.
Often it is the little things that mean the most. The little looks when he softly holds my hand and smiles his sweet, loving smile as we say good morning, for example. The connection we have now is golden. Because when I look back at the 2 year old who used to (fairly) gently pat my face with his hand to get my attention as he sat on my lap, I can really appreciate how much has changed for him. He understands his place in the world we have made for ourselves, he appreciates and seeks loving contact, which still has to be on his terms; I love that I can ask for a hug and it is nearly always given with generous abandon.
I can get caught up anticipating the future: schooling, friends, puberty (sticks fingers in ears and sings loudly ‘la la la’) driving a car, getting a job….. but it is so much sweeter to see the here and now, in the context of the first 4 years of Perky’s life, in particular. This was a time when we were fairly isolated, confused, bewildered, exhausted (mostly from the 2-12 night time wakings he would have), struggling to develop communication and social skills, I would sometimes despair that it would always be this hard.
The truth is that what was once hard has become easier for us – sometimes just plain easy, more often it is simply better than it has been in the past. The tricky part is that other concerns step in to fill the place of previous worries. This is the nature of being a parent, regardless of the situation. There will always be something to worry about and try to prepare for.
I am working on the skills of reflection, making sure I respect and celebrate the progress so far.
I hope you make the time to do this for you and your family, too, because something, and it may be tiny in your eyes, will stand out as a symbol of all you are working on and towards.
The efforts of everyone do pay off.
Honour the process and the turning points, whatever form they take. They are what life is made of.
*[For the record, that is a serious consumption of energy, but I refuse to stop now, because sometimes it actually works! I do think this style of thinking might come under the category of ‘it feels better when you STOP banging you head against a brick wall’, which makes it yet another thing for me to work on, sometime...]