Loving with Autism Update: A Fine Young Man

Truth is since Thomas finished school, work has been busy and I haven’t had much time and space to reflect… and reflect I need to do… somebody asked me the other day what Thomas will do next year and my reply was, ‘I really can’t talk about it yet, I can’t think about it…

I am allowing myself some space in the ‘in-between’… some space in between to celebrate where we have been and to heal how hard it was at times…. some time in between to gather the strength, to refill on trust, faith and hope as we enter into adulthood with autism along for the ride…

So here we sit in Mooloolaba in a beautiful hotel for a few days… I took Jacko to Fiji when he finished school and I asked Thomas where he would like to do… thinking he may just want to see the traffic lights in New York! And he said, ‘I want to go to Mooloolaba’… so here we are.

And so this morning I give myself some space to reflect on this little boy who has grown into such a fine young man… and I take time to feel the pain of some of the places we have been together and then feel the joy at having overcome such tough times to find ourselves here.

I look at him eating his lunch yesterday… a chicken parmy… this little boy that only ate a few things and whenever you offered him anything else it would end up on a wall… this is cause for celebration, all that worry about him not getting enough nutrition and he did just fine…

I look at him in his thongs… yes even that is cause for celebration… a little boy that for years wouldn’t wear shoes, I had to send him to school in sandals and then eventually the teacher got him to wear shoes… and then to buy shoes… well we all would need therapy after every shoe buying session including the lady at the shoe shop… and then to try and get him to wear thongs…

Well he couldn’t quite negotiate them and he couldn’t stand the feeling of the thongs between his toes and look at him now… achieving yet another milestone of being an Aussie male adult… and all in his own time… that is worth celebrating… hindsight shows me that there was no need to panic… progress not perfection…

I look at him in his denim zip up shorts, finishing just above the knee… Yes, even that is cause for celebration … you see for years he would only wear pull up shorts because he couldn’t negotiate the buttons and zips and then I would find new shorts cut to pieces in the bin… it would be years before he found his words to tell me that it was because he needed his shorts to cover his knees…

Imagine not having the words to explain what was causing you such discomfort, a discomfort we can not comprehend… and then being the parent trying to forever work out what you were doing wrong… but you see if I could have just had glimpse into the future I would have seen that it was all going to be ok, because look at him now… and what I have learnt is you get to have that glimpse when you truly practice ‘faith’ and ‘trust’… what a great gift to me.

And then I notice what a fit young man he is today… there was a time he got overweight… and it is not about how he looked but it is about his health and it is my job to keep him healthy, I am his Mum… and so after all the hissing and roaring and swearing and cussing I finally get him to boxing classes and look at him now… he manages his eating and his exercise and he is fit and healthy…. it all worked out… in his own time… no need to worry so much, but yes you will have to get through the hissing and roaring and cussing to get through to the celebration… and that is life!?

And as I watch him walk off confidently in front of me and watch his interaction with those around him, delight in hearing his conversations and watch him at work at the coffee club, well I am in awe… this little boy that couldn’t talk for so long, didn’t want to look at people, couldn’t show affection… this little boy that went through so much pain and grief… well, he has grown through all of that and shows me that it is all possible and that just because it gets so dark and messy… well that doesn’t mean you won’t come through the other side highly functional and achieving great things and being somebody great that has so much too offer the people and world around you.

Oh Thomas, you took me to the worst of myself so that I found the best of myself… you teach me everyday to look through the broken windows in our lives to the view beyond… you teach me the true meaning of embracing diversity and to not compare your progress with your fellow humans… as you smashed the walls you taught me that what matters is who we are within the walls and not the walls themselves… you kept my feet on the ground and my ego in check as I walked back in the door from a standing ovation and you reminded me I was just a big ‘penis’… lol… you give me an emotional work out regularly and because I that I have perspective on what is really important in this life we live…

But most of all Thomas you taught me to always hang on to ‘hope’, ‘trust’ and ‘faith’ and ;’love’.. and I hope that is the gift we can give other families… if you are in the midst of the tough times, feeling like you can not see the light and you are not making progress then let us be your light… because one day you will get to place where you tun around and look back and can’t believe how far you have come and you will celebrate and so you should!!

And so will we!! It is no surprise to me that the strawberry in this photo looks like a heart… clever universe…

The journey has been tough at times but the rewards and happiness far out way the tough times and sadness… so proud to be this young mans Mummy and I used to doubt he had picked the right Mummy, but now I know it was all as it should be. xx

And even now just in writing and reflecting I feel the strength and hope needed for the next stage… breathe out and time some time in the wonderful place of ‘in between’.

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