This is Autism

Originally published as part of the This is Autism Flash Blog, November 18, 2013.

My son makes me see the world differently, and every single day I am thankful for his perspective.

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He draws like no five year old I’ve ever met. Three dimensional objects, landscapes with amazing perspective (“Mom, these streetlights are smaller because they are far away”), complicated contraptions with gears and pulleys and even elephants. He draws for hours most days and goes through stacks and stacks of paper (of course, he never colors on the back of the page). I wonder what he could draw if he had stronger fine motor skills; he is only now learning how to button his shirts.

This is autism.

He has an astounding visual memory. He has started identifying picture books by the style of the artist. “Mom, is this book by the author of the one where the man rode the bike all over the country?” Even when it’s been several months since we’ve read whatever book, he’s always been correct. One of his preschool special educators thought it was hilarious when he asked these questions about the social stories she wrote for him (“Is this by the same author as Using the Toilet?”). He remembers the visual appearance of power substations on roads we we rarely take. He spies every power line or cell phone tower we drive past; they are often his favorite memories of any trip. And now I see the power lines differently, too, because of him.

This is autism.

He has many struggles, but our life is not defined by his struggles. He needs help because he has amazing potential (like all autistic children!), not because he is lost. Our love leaves no room for despair or fear.

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