World Autism Awareness Day 2014: What I LOVE and HATE about Autism

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I began to write for FamilyConnect not because I’m the parent of a child who has autism, but because I’m a parent of a child who is blind. However, both factors affect our lives daily. In honor of World Autism Awareness Day 2014, today I’m addressing this piece of the puzzle that makes up my son, Eddie.

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I LOVE that Autism has allowed my son to slowly progress through the stages of life. He was an infant longer…a toddler longer…and therefore, I was gifted with extra years of snuggles and lap-time. For him, I will probably never say he grew up “too fast.”

I HATE that Autism makes him progress slower than his peers…and that he’s never quite caught up enough to share their interests, their excitements, and their company.

I LOVE that Autism has brought numerous professionals into our lives that share a passion for my son. Their knowledge, dedication, and joy related to teaching Eddie are appreciated every day.

I HATE that Autism doesn’t allow for easy answers, and that even with exceptional educators, there are always more questions.

I LOVE that Autism has grown such fame and attention that there is even such a thing as “World Autism Awareness Day.” There is an ever expanding knowledge about this condition that affects so many children…reportedly, now 1 in 68.

I HATE that Autism is often depicted in the media by children on the “high-functioning” end, and not anything like the child that lives in my home, which leads to only an artificial understanding.

I LOVE that Autism has given my son a unique way of communicating. It makes those within his inner circle feel “chosen” when we can understand him. More importantly we feel valued because he trusts us for communication, and knows he can count on us when there's something he has to say.

I also HATE that Autism has given my son a unique way of communicating…that too few people understand, and he struggles with that every minute of every day.

I LOVE that Autism makes my son require deep pressure, for sensory relief, that can sometimes only be treated with great big hugs. Nothing is better than when Eddie asks for a hug.

I HATE that sometimes all he needs is a hug…and there is no one around that understands what he is seeking, and with it, sometimes simply affection.

I LOVE that Autism has provided me with a way to explain my son to others. Simply by stating that term, many know that his struggles go beyond blindness.

I HATE that Autism is even part of my vocabulary and that I even have to say my son is blind…and…autistic.

I LOVE that Autism has connected me to many other parents with children like mine. Parents that inspire me, teach me, and allow me to laugh at ridiculous anecdotes that cannot even be explained to other company.

I HATE that there are so many parents to connect to, and that there is still no definitive rhyme or reason to this epidemic.

Finally, I HATE that Autism causes my son to struggle every day. He fights demons that I can’t even begin to understand, and every single coping skill he has is worth admiration.

Above everything, I LOVE that Autism has provided me with my son, Eddie. He simply wouldn’t be Eddie without it.