Childrearing

Anonymous Mom: I Have 2 Autistic Kids And I Fear I Might Be Pregnant With Another

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Also, there are many agencies who won’t help us in particular because their services are based on an educational diagnosis of autism, and our sons are not able to meet the educational requirements for this diagnosis.

Why is that?

As a young disabled mother of preemies, I felt I had to overcompensate. Expectations for my parenting were already low from my in-laws and some of my own relatives. When the twins were born prematurely, I knew I’d have to work even harder. We talked endlessly with our babies. We held them. We tried to help them sit up. We tried to work through feeding difficulties.

As the twins got older, our son’s quirky behavior was the focus of most of my attention. If he banged his head on the wall, I dropped everything to secure him and make him stop. He got baths as often as necessary despite the screaming, thrashing and refusal. We forced him to eat mouthfuls of veggies and fruit–even if he’d spit them out–because we had to keep trying.

A lot of his classically autistic behavior is greatly subdued by years and years of attempts to “catch him up” in the hope that he would someday be able to lead an independent and successful life. He is not allowed to flap at the table. He isn’t allowed to wave his loaded fork about at the table. He is not allowed to stop holding my or his father’s hand often in public. I politely ask him to please stop when his chirping, screeching, yelling and other noises are grating against my eardrums. And we have done our very best to try and raise children we can take out to dinner, the dentist and the salon with as minimal fuss as possible because they will have to get out into the world someday.

What has that earned us?

A child who struggles to hold it together at school until he gets home and, like a shaken can of soda, explodes.

A child who, from a glance, seems fairly typical. Until he runs across the waiting room to take an infant toy from a baby in a car seat.

A child whose condition our in-laws thought we were exaggerating just so we could avoid attending family events. Until he set my husband’s aunt’s kitchen on fire at a post-funeral dinner because he loves fire. They had a gas stove and there was a picnic basket sitting over two of the burners.

A younger son whose first reaction to any negative emotion is to physically lash out due to years of watching his older brother do the same.

A child who, just this afternoon, waited until my husband left the barbecue unattended for a moment to retrieve food to put on it. My son calmly walked over and threw a large stick into the smoldering coals to see if he could build a fire despite our repeated lectures on the dangers of fire, matches, fireworks, lighters and all other pyromania accessories that fascinate him.

A child who hovers over us in our sleep “to say hi.”

A child who almost drowned his baby brother in formula because he wouldn’t stop crying.

A child who wanders, takes off on his bike to God knows where, steals and invades privacy, hides lighters in his pillow case whenever he finds them, and is now failing most classes.

I could go on.

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