Minus 4°c outside and a boy walks with an ice cream in his hand. He finishes one and tries to pull out the second one from the pack of four; A boy leaves hand of his mother and crosses the road without looking at the traffic just to reach the shop on the other side of the road to purchase an ice cream scaring his mother to death. Everyone else around is watching that boy with a look which says “OMG! Ice cream in this chilling weather”, ” what kind of mother she is who is letting him eat ice cream”, ” So unhealthy!”, “how careless she is to let him go”. And when you catch them staring at you either they pass sheepish smile or roll their eyes to other side. What a mother goes through when her credential as a mother is being put under scanner? Who’s fault is it precisely when the boy in question is “Autistic”?
Having a child and seeing him grow up, playing around and playing with us, posing questions (making us laugh and wonder) at every step and action, discovering things, catching up the pace with the world and have an own little world of ours – this was our dream of a happy life which was rocked completely when doctors diagnosed our son with Autism at the age of three and a half years. To accept the fact that your beloved is having a “Problem” doesn’t go down well for obvious reasons. The first question that stuck my mind when tears were rolling down and dampening my face was “God why me? I never wanted anything bad happen to anyone then why me?”
If finding a place to fit him in a curriculum was a struggle then streamlining day-to-day activities and habits for him is even a bigger challenge. Handling unexpected tantrums at places where you least wish it to happen with dozens of pair of eyes piercing through makes heart sink. Please Getting cranky, lying down on road, shouting and crying (this list is too small) – these are the things I handle on daily basis in and out of the house. At some point during this struggle I simply give up and answer the complaining tongues and questioning glares with a sorry and an explanation “Il est autiste” (He is Autistic). This mellows down their tone, softens their behaviour and they end up saying “bonne courage” (be brave).
What was I trying to do? Was I expecting them to understand or trying to garner their sympathy or asking them not to be judgemental about me or my son? May be everything.
When it comes to me, I must confess that many a times I end up losing my confidence and patience and just flare up at my son, cursing my fate and reprimanding him for not behaving the way I want.
Is it my son’s fault being an autistic or the fault lies in us who can’t accept deflection? We all have defects in us but when such defects become obvious to everyone we call it disability. Disability to cope up with changes, disability to adapt, disability to express and you name it we have it.
Yes my son is “handicapped” because of his disability to interact and express “Verbally”. He has behavioural disorder because he exhibits tantrums. But I believe he is a better person in making because of serenity and innocence his soul has. His love is unconditional as compared to mine ( even being a mother doesn’t deters me from expecting him to be at par with other kids of his age, which is impossible but can’t help it. This is my frustration that is speaking). It seems he understands that I am not happy with him but it never holds him back from running towards me to embrace me in happiness and fear.
Quite independent in many things he do, great memory power, exceptional grasping especially with music, his teachers praising him for being a good student in the class – he reminds me that he needs acceptance more than sympathy, he needs words of encouragement and a little help to pull off. When I am mad at him his teary eyes say “Mom I am equally frustrated because I am unable to explain what I want. I need your help, catch those signals. Being Autistic is not my choice“
For every person who is “able” by the standards set by “whosoever” it is important to understand that it is easy to be judgemental about a person whom you call disabled and give expert opinion about how to cope with it than to live with it and more importantly to have it. No disability is greater than being unable to accept.