Yesterday, I was asked to be part of a parent panel to talk to Occupational Therapy students that are about to receive their Master’s degree and discuss the personal challenges of raising a child with autism. I was very excited since I feel any type of awareness is a great way to create a path towards acceptance.
Of the four moms that were invited, all of us have a child that is about 5 or 6 years old. As I heard the other mom’s stories and challenges, how they stated that their child used to be non-verbal, or how their child writes backwards, or how one of them loves cars and is fascinated with cars, I had to control my emotions. My son is nonverbal. My son doesn’t write anything. My son is oblivious towards cars, or trains, or anything for that manner. I hate to compare. But how do you not compare when we are all discussing our children’s issues? I was able to control my emotions as I discussed how my son, who is more severe than the rest of the moms, how he communicates even though he is nonverbal, how he has empathy even though our doctor told us he wouldn’t have empathy, and how therapists are part of our team that help my son succeed.
But thinking about how difficult it was to hear the other kid’s stories, it was very hard to deal with my emotions. I don’t share my inner fights much. Because I have them on a daily basis, I feel after a while it begins to get old, to always talk about the same thing. I have become a pro in hiding my grief, until it becomes too much and then I need to let it go.
Some of the people that I try to never share my inner struggles are my parents. They are older, they don’t understand the language here, and I feel they may not be able to handle my sadness, since they have to handle my son’s daily challenges. When my son was injured by his teacher, I remember having to tell them what happened, since I couldn’t hide this from them. The bruises were visible and I know they would ask. And hearing my parents cry was, simply put, heartbreaking. So why add my pain to the one that they already carry?
Today, my mom called me regarding my son’s school work from yesterday. To put it lightly, it is terrible. He has no concept of putting things in order, or following simple rules that kindergarteners should know, eventhough he is in first grde. I saw the weekly package that the teacher sends home of all of his class work from the previous week. I usually try to analyze it. Try to figure out how we can work on my son so that he can understand it. But yesterday, I simply threw it on top of our side table and left it there. After the parent panel with the OT students, I didn’t have it in me to analyze anything.
But when my mom called today, she told me she saw my son’s schoolwork package. My mom, who does not understand English, who doesn’t have any type of education, told me she saw my monkey’s school work and she told me how proud she was that at least he tried. That even though he didn’t do it right, she told me how proud she was that he is getting better. And then she told me, “Don’t worry. He will get there. He will surprise you. And he will be just fine. I know this. Deep down inside, I know he will do great things. You will see. He will succeed in his time.”
And just like that, she knew I was feeling low. I didn’t have to tell her my inner struggles. As much as I tried to hide it from her, she knew.
It’s a daily assurance that I fight for that my monkey will be okay. And today my assurance came unexpectedly, from my mama. ❤️