Friday, April 3, 2009

Perspectives of a Guilty Parent

Originally posted at Mamabusypants on April 1. Life on the Spectrum recently wrote: "Someone said that they were tired of some parents with children who have autism, painting autism as if it were some sort of cool adventure. Autism is hard, depressing and sometimes unbearable." That resonates. Mr. Busypants has mild autism, which translates into autism is only mildly a pain in my ass. Sometimes I feel guilty about his mildness. I'm stuck in the middle: my kid's not quite normal, but he's also not completely, hopelessly, overly frustratingly autistic. So while I deal with the "autistic moments," I do not deal with them at the great frequency that many others do. Initially, the diagnosis and subsequent transitions from babyhood to toddlerland to preschoolville were hard, depressing, and sometimes unbearable. But now, while Mr. Busypants is in Kindergarten at least, the challenges are not much larger than the average parents' (different, but not more overwhelming). That may change, but I feel privileged to just love his mind and the unique perspective he brings to life. At least for now, I get to see it as a cool adventure. To be honest, I fear my neuro-typical (NT) daughter, Miss Chattyshoes, drama queen that she already is, will be way harder to raise. She already has an opinion about everything. When she really, really wants something, she repeats herself, each time at a higher decibel, until only dogs in the neighborhood and the dolphins at the Brookfield Zoo are able to hear her. I'm constantly being ordered to "sit down mama," as she plants her chubby cheeks (yes, the other ones) onto the couch and pats the spot right next to her. It's often frustrating because there's an endless list of things on my To Do list (like laundry, major clean up, grading, dishes, more major clean up, Facebook), but recently I decided to fall in line with the little drill sergeant. I mean, she'll only be little once. So now I'm getting caught up on all kinds of reading. It's distracting to do my Bible study with Elmo in the background, but somehow I manage. As for Mr. Busypants, well, so far he is wildly navigating the line between having autism and being a regular kid. He has a lot going for him in that he wants to partcipate with others, but he also has obstacles less known to those who are neuro-typical. He's coping with the sensory bombardment that's magnified because he has autism, the obsessive/compulsive need for structure and repetition as he processes the world around him, and the emerging knowledge that he is indeed different. Jeannie Anderson is a stay-at-home mom with two children, Mr. Busypants, 6, and Miss Chattyshoes, almost 2. She is a part time college-level writing instructor at three Chicago-area colleges and writes about the Adventures of Mr. Busypants at Mamabusypants.
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