Being An Autism Mom by Eileen Dalton

When people hear that Cian is autistic they often ask “oh he must be good at math?” Sorry, he won’t be able to help you count cards at the casino, he’s not Rain Man. Although to be honest, he’s pretty good at math 🙂

When he was first diagnosed at 18 months, it broke my heart. I blamed myself, thought of every aspirin i took or beer i had before i knew i was pregnant. i was mad at the world. It took me a long time to realize that it was ok to grieve the things i wouldn’t have, or thought i wouldn’t have. It didn’t make me a bad mom or a bad person to want my child to be “normal” (which i know is just a dryer setting but come on people we all say it).

Over time, I’ve come to accept autism as just part of who Cian is. He is the most vibrant, loving and creative kid. He loves art and video games, hugs and vanilla milkshakes. So what he doesn’t care that much about sports, can your kid write in every font available or draw the Disney castle from memory? All kids have different strengths and different skills and interests. One is no more valuable or “better” than another.

I am grateful every day for the fact that Cian has what’s known as “high functioning autism”. He can talk to me, tell me what he wants, snuggle and steal kisses. It’s not that easy for some of my friends. They have children who cannot speak, who hurt themselves because of their autism. It breaks my heart for them as they try to navigate this puzzling and confusing world of autism that we find ourselves in.

There is a lot of debate in the autism universe as to what approaches or advocacies are better. Autism Speaks often comes under fire for seeming to advocate a cure. While many autistics feel their autism is just a part of who they are, many parents of severely affected children would welcome it. I believe that all advocacy is good, the fact that so many people now know more about autism is a good thing. It helps our children be accepted and included in a different way.

This is why this necklace is so perfect to me. The puzzle piece has long been associated with autism. The rainbow reflects the broad spectrum that so many of us experience. And the infinity symbol, the representation of the autism rights movement. We can differ in our beliefs on approaches and methods, but at the end of the day we are one large neurodiverse family.