The Pieces of Autism

I want to take a few minutes to talk about autism. 

This is my teenage son.  

He has what is called High Functioning Autism. I’ve always thought this was a poor name for a very complicated life existence. 

At a month shy of 14 he officially became a vendor at a local antique store. Because of the way his brain works, because of his Autism and ADHD, he has the ability to watch The Antique Road Show, American Pickers and Pawn Stars and store items away in his mind. When he sees similar items either by design, manufacturer or maker in Goodwill or at a flea market or yard sale – he can recall the value of an item instantaneously. He has a super human ability to know an items numerical worth just by looking at it. He can buy and sell like a seasoned professional. This is a piece of Autism. 

We were driving in the car on a suddenly very very rainy day.  The rain came in fast and furiously. Traffic lights were out all over.  As we approached the final traffic light before the store there was a police officer directing traffic.  She was soaked. No rain coat. No umbrella. Dripping wet as she directed traffic. My son ran in the store for one thing and came out of the store with an umbrella for the officer. He insisted I drive him over to her car. ‘She’s soaking wet mom. No one wants to be wet.’ I saw the same soaked woman. I (sadly) didn’t think about her again. I would have never in a million years have thought to get her an umbrella.  Some people think people with Autism don’t feel. Really they feel too much. All of the time. This is a piece of Autism. 

My son can’t stand his little sister screaming. He will give her anything to make her stop. She thinks she gets his phone for every single car ride. This is a behavior I, now, can’t stop in either of them. Noises are painful to my son. They result in what seems like a tremendous over reaction. Some days I don’t even understand. This is a piece of Autism. 

My son hasn’t been in school for a year.  He has trouble sitting still.  He can’t be in a large classroom in a public school. He can’t change classes and arrive on time and prepared to the next class. He can be bossy and over bearing. He doesn’t really fit in. Public school doesn’t work.  An Autism focused school is too loud and chaotic and triggers his anxiety. His anxiety looks like anger. My brilliant savant like child is days shy of 14 and sits at a 5th grade level. The only schools he would fit in at are private and expensive.  This is a piece of Autism. 

‘Little professors’. Adults are amazed at my son. They tell me how proud I should be. How intelligent and well spoken he is. How he’s a different kind of kid. Except just that. He is 10000% a different kind of kid. He has been unable to maintain one age appropriate friendship. This eats his soul. He deeply wants friends. He’s done social skills. He knows the deal.  But, in his words ‘he doesn’t play sports or video games’ and he ‘doesn’t want to pretend to care about stuff he doesn’t care about’ and he wants to find someone ‘just like him.’ Which is generally middle aged people.  This is a piece of Autism. 

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of Autism. The night after we took the picture above – my son had a complete melt down. An epic melt down we hadn’t seen in months.  

Some days I feel like we’ve figured this all out. Like we’re actually going to conquer and change the world.  Some days I feel like my son deserved a better mom and I deserved a different son.

Autism is a wild ride. 

Autism is a hard ride.

Autism will fill you with pride. 

Only to turn around and (almost) break you. 

Not every piece is pleasant or easy. 

Some pieces feel like they’re straight from hell. 

Thankfully, there are a million pieces. 

And, most of the pieces are amazing. 

Written by, Jacqueline Waxman

Jacqueline Waxman, M. Ed is a blogger-in-training living in New Jersey with her kids. I’m a social worker by profession and special needs mom. I chauffeur children to their preferred destinations, feed-bathe-and-cloth my little people when we are not playing outside. Passions include writing, photography, and advocacy.

You can follow Jacqueline on Facebook at Walking a THIN Gray Line by Jacqueline Waxman.

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