Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Would I Change Him?

Lately I've had some ask me about my son, Callahan.  They want to know more about him, they want to know more about autism, they want to know more about Fragile X.  People are curious, because there's so much unknown that encircles autism.  When he was little, things were difficult.  I don't remember every single day being hard, but I remember a lot of the hard days.  However I remember rejoicing in the milestones and the firsts too, maybe even more than I remember them for the girls. As he has gotten older, things have gotten so much easier.  Transitions are easier for him, conversations are easier for him, people are easier for him.  I don't know if life is easier for him, or if he just copes better.  Sometimes I think life may be more difficult now, because I know that he knows he's different.  I remember someone once telling me about a class where professionals would help us learn how to explain to our special needs son that he was different and why.  I also remember thinking how ridiculous that was, because I thought he would never understand that or even realize that he was different.  Then one summer day while we were swimming (something I never thought he would do), it happened:  he walked over to me, looked thoughtfully into my eyes and asked, "What do I have?"  I immediately felt that tug at my heart and my eyes well up as I tried to decipher just what he was asking me...even though I knew exactly what he was asking.  He stared at me with a questioning look and expression of concern.  I took a deep breath and gave him the answer that I use to give the girls and other kids when they would ask me about Cal.  I said, "You have autism.  It means your brain works differently."  He stared at me a minute, nodded his head and jumped back into the pool.  My head immediately started to pound, and I fought back tears for a long time while I watched him play.  I was wrong....he did know that he was different.  Not long after that, I read "The Reason I Jump"; and I became acutely aware that my son probably understood much more than I had ever given him credit.  There were parts of that book that brought me joyful tears, and there were parts that brought me tears of sorrow; but the book was extremely insightful.  I have always been careful not to talk about Cal as if he is not present, just like I would not talk about my "typical" girls as if they weren't present.  Sometimes when he hears a conversation involving him, I can tell by the look on his face that he is listening intently; and I always steer it towards being appropriate for his ears.  Oftentimes, he will ask me about it afterwards, and I always answer him as honestly as I can.  Lately I've had a few ask me if I could, would I change Cal?  I've thought about this a lot, and I know most are wondering about the diagnosis and not the person he is.  One thing I know is this:  I want Cal to be happy, just like I want my "typical" children to be happy.  I know this is a very ambiguous answer, but that's because I feel like it would be very selfish of me to say yes I would change him when he is happy; but I also feel like it would be very selfish of me to say no I wouldn't change him if he is not.  Cal is a wonderful young man, and I'm not just saying that because he's my son.  Ask anyone who knows him, and they will agree.  He is very loved and very good at loving others.  And for now, he is happy!

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