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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The invisible wheelchair

As I may or may not have stated, J is six turning seven this fall. In many ways he is indistinguishable from the "NT" peers. He is in most ways physically very healthy (beside the constant can't poopness we've battled since he stopped breastfeeding at one). He is in the seventy fifth percentile in weight and in the ninetieth percentile in height. He has tan skin (year around), beautiful shiny gilded hair and large clear greenish hazel eyes. In short, I'd say he is a few neuron connections over or under depending on how you look at it, away from a modeling career. I'd like to be modest and say "forgive me, this is written in a mothers hand" but I've been told (with out soliciting) this from others. In a way this makes us lucky. I can send out pictures of those giant precious moment eyes and they do get results.
J's eye's
Here is where it hurts us. Today we traveled to the local splash park. Every time we come to the splash park I have a vividly painful memory. In the not so distant past, on a warm, want-to-be autumn day (this is Florida, you know) I'd taken they boys out for an mid-morning frolic. As usual you had a cross section of socioeconomic backgrounds at the splash park. You always see kids splashing in their under ware while their "parents" flit in and out of the periphery. You also see kids just learning to walk, wearing sunglasses, wide brimmed hats, swim shirts, long swim trunks, swim shoes and enough SPF 80 to cover a silver back mountain gorilla.

Don't forget the SPF buddie :)

Well, one of your classic helicopter mom's was diligently hovering over her son who was in full upper class SPF. Of course, being super prepared and everything she had brought toys for her future doctor, lawyer, ad executive (insert white collar degree here). So consequently I had the pleasure of R-E-P-E-A-D-T-L-Y returning the toys when J would snatch them up. I personally don't know why people bring toys to a crowded public play area if they don't intend to share them with other children but, I digress. Of course type "A" mommy would flag J down and retrieve said toy. I don't know about you, but I HATE other people reprimanding my children. I am his parent, that is my job. I never step in unless the other children parents are unavailable or unwilling, which I clearly was not. So after several session of her "fetching" and me returning and repeatedly reprimanding J, I got sick of this and blurted it out. "Just so you know, he has Autism". I guess this is where my "don't ask, don't tell" policy bites me in the ass. I don't tell people unless something is going on that makes J's Autism heartily apparent. I'll never forget her response, "I'm so sorry". I bet she had a lesson in Autism awareness that day, unfortunately so did I.

Lesson's learn via Autism
to, well you get the point

I guess since it not glaringly obvious that J has Autism pointing it out to people is even harder for me. I'm torn between the idea that someday he won't fit in at all and what will I (and he) have to deal with then and wishing I didn't have to enlighten people now. In this way, I wonder if people with children with more obvious impairments have this aspect easier? I'm overwhelmingly sure people will say stupid things to you no matter your childs level of disability. I am in no way demeaning people with children with lower functionality struggles, please understand that. 

It makes me think of a child who is wheel chair bound, standing, at a track meet unaided. Inevitably you are going to have someone challenge him to race.

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