But this shit ain’t no joke, ya’ll.
This was not supposed to touch my life at all. I had no clue what autism even entailed. I pictured Rain Manand Ju-Ju-Judge Wapner. I had heard of the vaccine controversy, but that’s it. Yeah, I know that’s offensive, but that is the God-forsaken truth of the matter.
Then one night I was googling some of the crazy crap my odd child does. Surely, in the vastness of the interweb, there existed someone who had seen a child do some of these things. Somehow this had an answer to it. Everyfuckingthing has an answer. I did not like what I was reading. But suddenly everything was making sense. The trouble in school, despite his giftedness. The ADHD diagnosis that didn’t seem to explain everything, with treatment that should’ve helped and didn’t. His irritability and all-out rages. His lack of ability to make friends his age. His harmless obsessions with weird subjects. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. I could go way back and link up trouble he has had his entire life–sleep disturbances, now-apparent sensory issues, temperament…..All of it–every single bit—pointed to what I was reading.
Asperger’s Syndrome. An autism spectrum disorder.
And when I made an appointment with a therapist and psychiatrist, telling him what his symptoms were, they were supposed to tell me it wasn’t so, that I was reading too much into it. Instead, they referred me to developmental specialists who have such long waiting lists that we are still waiting for that appointment six months after the referral.
And I didn’t get to dip my toes into the icy water, aclimating myself to the change. I had to cannonball my way into the shit. And I still don’t like it. The water is still freezing. I have not adjusted to the upset just yet. I just never thought we would have one of those things associated with our lives. You know, one of those things that they name a month after. Like April and Autism Awareness Month. I mean, my child has an IQ somewhere above 160. He’s gorgeous. He’s funny. He was supposed to go on and be the quarterback of the football team in high school while still managing a full academic scholarship to Harvard.
Okay, so while we wait for an “official diagnosis”, we know he has it. So how do we fix it? C’mon, doc, write the prescription. Only this isn’t strep throat that can be wiped clean with bubblegum-pink amoxycillin. We can’t fix it. It just is. But what caused it? This way, we can prevent it in the future. What do you mean, nobody knows? If nobody knows, then we can’t fix it, we can’t prevent it, we can’t eradicate the damned problem. Is it my genes? Did I do this to my son? Did I hug him one too little times as a baby? Did I let him eat too many Happy Meals? And why is it that one child “on the spectrum” is in diapers and cannot speak a lick, yet my son can do math 4 grade levels above his own, is almost too independent, and speaks like a fucking Ph.D, yet is on the same spectrum? How in the hell is that possible and what accounts for the difference?
And then comes the whopper. This is just how Evan is. You cannot do a thing about it but love him. And would you want to fix it if you could? Isn’t this a part of who he is? There is still so much to learn, so much to understand.
And that is why we need Autism Awareness Month. In honor of the occassion, I have placed a clickable puzzle-piece icon on the top of the right-handed sidebar where you can donate to a worthy autism cause, if you feel so inclined.