Special parents and special kids feels patronising and a bit judgemental.
Yes, its true that Dylan has needs which are different because of his autism and communication difficulties but is that what makes him special?
Let me tell you what does.
He has an unbelievably wickedly accurate throwing aim.
He laughs and chuckles like a baby, unadulterated and contagious.
He likes to share and is very giving. He has a fantastic sense of humour.
These are the bits of Dylan that make him special.
Not his autism.
And us as parents are we special? Hell no!
I have a temper.
I am tired.
I am a human.
Throughout our journey with autism and Dylan I have grieved, at diagnosis I have been angry, I have – time and time again – totally misunderstood and overlooked Dylans needs, I have unknowingly made Dylans life harder and I hate to say that in hindsight some of the things I have said and done may have been unintentionally unkind.
The truth is prior to Dylan receiving his diagnosis my only experience of autism was watching Rainman. I hadn’t knowingly had contact with anyone else with autism so I didn’t know what to do or how to help.
My first point of reference where professionals and I’d followed their advice for a long time. None of their words of wisdom were about Dylan as a person or his needs. It was all autism, as if there was no Dylan, just autism. Professionals would talk about Dylan in front of him as if he wasn’t there. They would test him and highlight tasks he is unable to complete, all negative, lack of progress, his perceived lack of willing.
As parents we were often told Dylan ‘is a lazy child’ while he was sitting next to us and, not knowing any better, we slowly developed the mindset of professionals.
We lived like this for many years and I cannot imagine how miserable this must have been for Dylan.
I mistook his repetitive self destructive behaviours as ‘autism’ instead of an expression of how miserable he felt and difficult he was finding life back then.
Luckily, highly due to the internet, I expanded my knowledge and realised that Dylan had options for an alternative life. After making changes Dylan has been happier and progressing ever since.
The bottom line is that truthfully I am a regular mum who’s doing her best. I have made mistakes and for that, Dylan believe me, I will be eternally sorry.
I do not deserve to be considered special.