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(Editor’s Note: April is National Autism month.)
I see the way you look at us and read your mind so well. Little brat or no control? It’s really hard to tell. I’ve seen the view from your eyes and thought the same things too.
Have you ever?
Have you ever wished you could hold and receive affection from your child? Have you ever wished your child would look at you the fifth, sixth or seventh time you called his name? Have you ever wished he would call you Momma, Mom or Ma? Have you ever wished your 2-year-old would tell you “no”?
Have you ever pointed to eight different boxes of cereal to see which box he wants because he can’t tell you? Have you ever wondered why the things he does say, he says over and over? Have you ever been blessed with a smile from ear to ear because you understood what he meant the first time he tried to tell you something? Have you ever let him eat cereal all day long because that’s almost all he’ll eat?
Have you fixed pizza 10 or more times a week because he’ll eat that too? Have you ever washed that special plate or bowl two or three times a day because he has to eat off of them? Have you ever had to get up from the table twice in one sitting, to wash his precious hands because they got dirty and he won’t eat until they are clean? Have you ever let your child wear the same shirt for three days in a row, thanking God at least he’s wearing clothes today? Have you ever taken his shoes off and put them back on six or seven times, ‘till they feel just right? Have you ever let him wear those shoes to bed, night after night? Have you ever wondered why he tiptoed all day long and could never sit still?
Have you ever let him wear a sock hat all day and to bed because the pressure makes him feel a little better and covering his ears muffles the fraction of the night time noise? Have you ever wondered why out of all the toys he has to play with, he stares at the wheels of the car he rolls back and forth? Have you ever wondered why he doesn’t play?
Have you ever had to draw the Wal-Mart or spark 20 or more times a day? Have you ever had to ask the manager at Wal-Mart for a sign, so you wouldn’t have to draw it all day? Have you ever saw the joy on your child’s face to have that sign?
Have you ever had to ask the manager at a restaurant if you could let him sneak a quick look at the kitchen before he’d sit down to eat? Have you ever had to get up and leave a restaurant as soon as your food hits the table? Have you been in the checkout line, with a cart full of groceries, when a major meltdown hits? Have you ever watched people stare at you and your child like you both have the plague? Have you then had to hold your head high and bite your lip for the sake of your child? Have you ever had to convince your pediatrician that something’s just not right? Have you ever had to sit through hours of intensive evaluations, scared of the unknown? Have you ever received the diagnosis of autism for your child?
Chances are, many of you answered no to those questions and think they are crazy. Truth is, it is crazy and it’s real. I hold his hand until he falls to sleep each night, sometimes hours on end. I then thank God for the opportunity, to wake up and do it all again. I’m blessed to be part of his journey and wouldn’t change any of him for the world.
Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 150 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys and girls. The prevalence of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.
One more have you ever and then I’ll let you go, have you ever judged God’s child, because you didn’t know?