As a parent of a child with Aspergers, I believe in miracles because on ‘good’ days, I get to experience them. You might take a prolonged period of eye contact from your child for granted. But I don’t. For the mother of a child with autism, eye contact is something that rarely happens, as it’s seen as confrontational and intrusive, so when it does happen voluntarily, it completely touches your heart.
You may get frustrated when the loud noise of your children’s rambunctious laughter starts at 3am during a sleepover with friends, when all you want to do is grab a bit of sleep before work the next day. Yet for me, hearing the appropriate laughter at a joke told by peers would be priceless. Traditional Humour is exceptionally hard for an autistic person to understand and often what they find amusing is not shared by others.
Imagine having a child who can not stand to be touched; who flinches from contact. As a parent all you want is to touch them, to hold them, to feel some sense of physical connection to them. It’s why when they do hug you back in a way that is truly reciprocated it brings tears to our eyes and joy to your heart.
Remember those first few months adjusting to a new born? With the sleep deprivation so severe that you discovered that it may be possible to actually die from fatigue? Imagine what it would be like if that never improved. Think about how you would feel if your child got older and yet was not capable of sleeping through the night and awoke with night terrors or decided to make breakfast at 3:30am a few times a week. Imagine never having a full night’s sleep again. When I have the privilege to sleep through the night, I am so grateful in the morning that the first thing I do is Thank God for my blessings.
A child who is on the autism spectrum can often have issues with verbalizing what they want/need/feel and without prompting, can get stuck which leads to overload and then their frustration. Imagine the joy of a parent who receives a spontaneous declaration of love or affection, even frustration or anger, because for us, it simply rarely ever happens. Having basic communication initiated by your child is a miracle.
The milestones you celebrated with your child, because they were reached and then independently mastered, will never happen in the same way for me. The miracle of having a child with autism follow directions the first time they are given, is something that occurs sporadically at best and why it’s so appreciated when it happens.
You passed the milestone of potty training and teaching toileting behaviors to your child, yet for a parent who has a child on the spectrum, a clean trip to the bathroom can become an event worthy of animated celebration. Stress and anxiety can cause accidents as does over excitement or simply being unaware of their bodily functions when distracted. It’s not as easy to deal with when your child is approaching adulthood.
When a person with Aspergers tries a new food that is not preceded by a tantrum and loud vocal complaints, the entire family is excited by it, even when the food was neither appreciated or liked. The miracle lay in all the little things like this that so many take for granted, that we simply can’t, that end up meaning so much to us.
We experience small miracles every single day because we have seen that what most people take for granted, we have had to work so hard for, just to occasionally see a glimpse of it. You may wonder how we do it or how we handle it but the reply for most parents is the same. We do it because we have no choice; we love our children and support them.
As much as we try and as much as we teach them to be independent, we know that many people will not understand the struggle we have faced and the work it’s taken us, to get them to the point where others might see ‘normal’ as we see ‘miracle’. Our vantage point was simply far too different for us to share the same view.