Well it was bound to happen this week…. The eyes welled up for valid reason of course! Not only is it Autism Awareness during the month of April, a cause close to my heart, I also gave birth, a year ago, to my sixth child, our ‘warrior princess’, and 13 years ago (one day apart), to my third child – my second son, my biggest baby, my second easiest birth resulting in my calmest, most relaxed easy-going, always happy baby boy!
You see what people don’t realise about our Marley Kai is that for ten years he was our baby, a happy child who displayed strong empathy from an early age. He was always sensitive to the emotions of others around him, he seemed gentle, soft and vulnerable. And so, as a family, we tended to do most things for him. Yet despite this, I felt that his ‘quirks’ weren’t ‘normal’ and I wanted to get him some support to navigate his way through life and learning – safely, comfortably and to the best of his ability.
Specialist after specialist told me there was nothing wrong with him and I should stop feeling concerned and comparing him to my older kids. And so, succumbing to the pressure I did. I did stop pursuing assessments and support for my son, satisfied that any ‘quirks’ I had concerns about were not worrying. And besides, I knew nothing was ‘wrong’ in the traditional sense of the word.
Regardless of extending our family with our 5th child and the joy it brought to Marley (then aged 10), the hard times were still there – when he encountered nasty comments from his peers in high school, comments made about his ‘weirdness’…I guess I thought it was because of his love of reading and online games so again I pushed it to the back of my mind.
Fast forward last year, one month after our ‘warrior princess’ was born, I gave in to that niggly feeling and took him for a new assessment. Diagnosis confirmed: ADD and High Functioning Autism (or Asperger’s as it was once called). I was shocked – I had been told so many times I was looking for something that wasn’t there…
However, regardless of regular OT, addressing his sensory issues, extra time for tasks, appropriate use of technology and eye contact with good clear communication – none of it makes a difference – we still do what we have always done … shower him with lots of love and hugs!! My baby boy has grown so much through the responsibilities of being a big brother and it’s been beautiful to watch!
And so, during this month of Autism Awareness, I dedicate this post to you Mr 13 yr. old.
‘I clearly see the sweet, mild-mannered, lovely, brilliant minded, cheeky, funny, quirky young man you are growing into. A kind, caring, intelligent soul, who is an amazing big brother, a cheeky little brother, a wonderfully loving son and a very much-loved grandson!
If you are perceived as weird, well that’s ok. In this family being weird means you’re cool and who wants to be the boring same as everyone else anyway!
Your dad, your brothers and sisters and I will always love you more than you ever say you love us and I know you know what I mean! You melt our hearts.
Show the world how amazingly awesome we know you are! We love you more than all the universe and more than all the stars – Happy Birthday!’