He came home from school last week and asked, “Why do I get so angry but my friends never do? Why am I not the same?”
And it broke me. Because he is passionate and intelligent and kind and intuitive and beautiful.
He didn’t always seem different. We never paid attention to how he would line everything up in play. And we would laugh it off as a quirk when he would organize everything dependent upon shape, size, and color. He was stubborn, sure, but so am I.
And then COVID happened, and we attributed the lack of social skills to social distancing. He knew everything academically that he should. But he still doesn’t know not to run away in parking lots and he chews through collars on his shirts. He never vocalizes how he feels and he thinks anyone in the same vicinity as him is his best friend.
Getting him diagnosed was a relief and a devastation all at the same time.
The other boys know their brother is different. They didn’t know the word “autism” until two weeks ago though.
But they do know that sometimes he gets upset by things at which most people don’t blink an eye.
They know that sometimes he needs to hide under a blanket to calm himself down. And that chewing on things makes him feel better.
They know his brain works differently because “God gave him bigger feelings.”
But knowing doesn’t make it easier.
Some days, I want to start over before we have even had breakfast.
Some days, I dread hearing how his day was.
Some days, I wish he would talk to me more about what is going on in his brain.
Some days, I wish I didn’t have to tell him what is appropriate and safe and what isn’t—I wish he just inherently knew.
Some days, I listen to him say things I know he doesn’t mean because he doesn’t know how to express what he does mean.
Some days, I snuggle up next to him while he decompresses.
Some days, adults stop to tell me he shouldn’t run. Or that he is rude.
Some days, I tell my husband I will take a day off and just go get coffee and listen to silence without worrying about how an unexpected stop will affect our favorite 5-year-old.
Some days are very hard. But every day, I will be loving him.
Here’s to the souls who help us love our boy for who he is. Who don’t need explanations and don’t demand more than we can give. Who don’t lecture but just love. Who walk with us and listen and who just are.
Here’s to the neurodivergent ones: who make us think differently and who have more passion for everything than perhaps anyone else. They are the sunshine on cloudy days.