This piece first appeared on one of my favourite blogs – Respectfully Connected. I wanted to share it here too…
Just the other day, our 5 year old told me he loves being Autistic. As he said this I could feel the pride beaming out of his gorgeous, smiling face, and bursting through the tips of his outstretched fingers.
Since his diagnosis 8 months ago, we have always been open with him about the fact that he is Autistic. We have talked about what it means to be Autistic. We have talked about the things that he is good at because he is Autistic, and we have talked about the things that are difficult for him because he is Autistic.
He has Autistic friends, who he loves playing with and watching, but he has never really shown much interest in Autism, and never talked about it…..until recently.
You see, a few months ago my husband and I underwent an Autism assessment with the Psychologist who diagnosed J (she specialises in Autism diagnoses). Autism is genetic, and from the assessment we discovered that my husband is Autistic; and although I didn’t meet all the criteria for Autism, I have Autistic traits and consider myself to be neurodivergent. It was a really interesting and helpful process to consider our own autistic traits; and it has certainly helped us in better understanding our family dynamics and relationships with each other.
But the best part about this new learning for us is that Jack will always have someone close to him to relate to. There will always be someone close that understands when he is having trouble coping; he will always have strong advocates, and hopefully he wont feel like he is alone or isolated or misunderstood. And I think his Dad’s diagnosis has made his Autism more real to him, more relatable, something he is starting to talk about, and something he is proud of.
Just the other day, on a car ride to Perth, I had a delightful conversation with him about his toy Brachiosaurus. It went like this:
J: Mum, do you know what my Brachiosaurus is?
Me: A dinosaur?
J: No, it’s like me…
Me: Ummm a boy?
J: No, she’s a girl!
Me: Oh ok, ummm good at climbing? A fast runner?
J: Noooo. I’ll give you a clue….It starts with Auuuu.
Me: I had no idea and started trying to name dinosaurs.
J: No Mum, Auuuutis…
Me: Oh, she is Autistic?
J: Yeah, she is Autistic. (Smiling and stimming)
Then his younger brother chimes in with “I’m Autistic too!”
J: No you’re not…. just Daddy and I are Autistic. I love being Autistic.
It was very sweet, and he was very proud, and that makes me feel very happy.
(*ETA In March 2018 our second son was diagnosed as Autistic as well…so he was right a few years ago when he said he was Autistic too!)