I was recently reminded (Hi Uncle Mike 🙂 ) of an e-mail I sent a while back telling a select few family members that Jay had been diagnosed with a “mild case of autism”. I don’t think I would use those words had I written that e-mail today. I think the biggest reason I did then, was that I didn’t know better. I didn’t know what Jay’s diagnosis meant for us. Back then I was still very naïve about what it meant to have autism. I had some generalized notion of what lay in store for us. I knew (from reading on the internet) what the traditional signs/symptoms were and my Jay didn’t “fit”. There were so many things that other autistic people struggled with that Jay didn’t then and doesn’t now have a problem with. The internet is amazing. I love the heck out of google but it doesn’t always give you all the information you need. And anyone who’s been through this knows that the doctors don’t give you much information either. It’s something along the lines of … “Your son has autism, but no-one really knows what causes it or what that means or how it will affect you since every single person who has it is different, so there’s nothing I can say to help you. But here’s a phone # for Early Intervention. Call them. They will set you up with some therapy. Any questions? (please don’t have any questions) No? Good”.
Sure, I knew Jay was behind developmentally, but the enormity of it hadn’t hit me yet. In my ignorance, I underestimated the impact that having delayed cognitive skills mixed with virtually no communication skills would have.
If you’ve been reading my bog, then by now you know that I’m a big believer in educating myself about autism. I think more positive than negative things will come of people being open and sharing both the good and difficult things with others. But … I think my initial ignorance was good too. It has been easier on me and more manageable to have just a peek at what’s coming up next and focus on that instead of looking at the long uphill battle. 1 thing at a time. 1 day at a time. Heck, 1 minute at a time. That’s what has worked for me.
I suppose, I’ve always been that way. Capable of achieving more when I focus on the low hanging fruit and then working my way up instead of immediately reaching for the ones at the top.
I wasn’t a good eater as a kid. We ate breakfast and dinner as a family (pretty much) every day and no-one could leave the table until everyone was finished. I would take a few small bites and then declare that I was full. Mostly because I wanted to get up from the table and do something fun and less because I was in fact, full. My dear Grandad, in order to keep me properly nourished, would take a bowl (so I couldn’t see how much was inside) and ask me to eat “just 1 more Deenie”. So I would. Then he’d say, “how about 1 last one just for me?” OK, I’d say, because I loved my Grandad and another bite I’d take. But then he’d tell me Grandma needed a bite too since he got one. And if Grandma got one then Aunty Joan simply had to get one too. And then I couldn’t leave out Millie and so on and so forth until I’d eaten the entire bowl. I probably even took a mouthful for the dog and the cat by the time he was done with me.
There was also this thing he did with an egg cup. Don’t know what that is? Since I’m good like that I got a picture for you.
So anyway, my Grandad, would sit with me and try to coax me 1 spoonful at a time to eat the egg. After a couple of bites, he’d tell me I was all done. (whoo hoo!) BUT WAIT … he’d squeeze the bottom of the egg cup and magically a little more egg would appear inside. Then I’d eat that one to see if he could do it again. Of course he did. And again and again until I had eaten the whole thing. (Kids are great in their innocence aren’t they?)
The point is … Sometimes, you can do (really) big or difficult things, if you don’t see it as a (really) big or difficult thing.