Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oh, the Potential

In a lot of ways I’m really lucky! William, though severely autistic, is pretty easy to take care of. I don’t mean easy in a normal sense, of course. Rather easy in the autistic sense. He’s ten now and still not toilet trained; but he doesn’t wet the bed every night and he doesn’t have what my husband calls “crapisodes” frequently. The nights that I’d wake up with fear in my heart at 3:30 in the morning because his light was on and I’d spend the next several hours cleaning up are, thankfully for the most part, years in the past.

He started talking when he was seven. I remember the excitement I felt when he said one, then ten, TEN words in one day! Now he says hundreds, maybe thousands a day. Of course, most of them are verbal scripting and I can quote episodes of Blue’s Clues along with him; but he can talk! And he told me his head hurt in May.

He’s never been self-injurious. In fact, I remember him at his most impaired three year-old self standing at the top of the stairs, holding a boogie board, weighing the risks of sliding down. His older sister and brother had sent him down the day before into a pile of blankets and pillows. He’d liked it so much that he’d tried alone and had plowed head first into the wall at the bottom of the stairs leaving a dent. I watched him standing at the top of the stairs, deciding what to do. He eventually wandered away.

Many of our battles with the school district are behind us. Will is in a good school and has improved enough to share his teacher with another student. Now, I hope for the possibility of success in a three-to-one.

Will teaches me a lot about people. Most he scares off immediately. Others look at me with pity and tell me, “You’re such a great mother!” Which use to piss me off because they didn’t know me. They didn’t know what kind of mother I was! And I knew they were just mentally down on their knees thanking God that they weren’t me. Now it doesn’t bother me. I understand that they want to be supportive, but don’t know what to say. And frankly I wish it wasn’t me either.

He brings out the best in people or the worst. We were at a park in July he walked through an extended family’s picnic, swiped someone’s partially eaten ice cream cone and started walking away. I grabbed the cone, threw an apology over my shoulder and walked him away. I heard a man say, “He can have one.” I ignored him and kept walking. The man followed me to the playground to offer again.

Three days later, at a different park he walked up to someone and grabbed a handful of fries and shoved them in his mouth; she was much nicer about it than the owner of blow up fins when he picked them up and put them around his neck. Neither had any warning but had very different reactions.

He brings out the best and the worst in me as well. I’m still working on making it be the best.

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