I’ve been away for a bit. I’ve been in a self-made cocoon of sorts, waiting for the right time to reveal my “new” self.
Or the self I’ve always been, but didn’t really know it.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking on the best way to start the conversation here. This place that I’ve built to laugh and cry, and bemoan, and celebrate autism in our family. This place that has become a safe haven for me and others, a place where it’s OK to be our true selves, autism, warts, and all.
I thought for a while that I needed to bring platitudes and great revelations. That I needed to be profound.
And as I sat, cozy and safe in my self-imposed little box, it came to me.
Rather, Jack came to me.
Jack has been my teacher on so many levels, and I should have known this would be no different.
A couple of weeks ago, we went to a small amusement park and a big water slide park on the same day. We don’t do amusement parks, as a rule, for a few different reasons: Money, crowds, autism, crowds, crazy children, lines, money, and, of course, crowds. The kids have been on a few rides here and there (most recently the Great Wheel in Seattle), but we haven’t done a full-fledged amusement park since Disneyland years ago when the kids were small.
The only water slides my kids have encountered have been the small ones at a downtown spray park, and the slide at our local pool (not small by any means, but not theme-park-sized).
I was worried how Jack would do on the rides, since he really seemed to hate them when he was younger. I also didn’t know how he would react to the water-slides, as you can’t exactly avoid being splashed in the face or dunked underwater.
To our relief, the amusement park was both quite small and fairly empty. The kids didn’t have to wait in line for anything. It was like an Autism Miracle.
He handled it all. Really well. By himself.
For instance, he did this:
He both shot his brother in the face, and took many hits in return. All with a big grin.
This one amazed me. Jack HATED swings as a baby and small child. It took about two full years of occupational therapy to get him to not only ride a swing, but enjoy it. Now he’s a swinging fool.
He did this:
This ride made my husband ill just looking at it. They’re up there spinning around, while spinning around. Like teacups up in the air.
And then he did this:
If you can’t tell from the photos, this little ride here is like a carousel on acid. You sit on a horse, and the platform starts to rotate. Then, the whole thing rises up one side of an arc, then down and up the other side. All while the platform is still rotating. Like someone thought the pirate ship that goes back and forth is a little too tame, and the carousel is just not dangerous enough.
So yeah, he rode that thing. Smiling.
We headed to the water slides, and Jack took off alone. I was worried about him, but figured he’d end up entertaining himself in the splash areas or pools.
Toward the end of our visit, my child ran up to me, dripping wet.
He had done this:
He was so excited to tell me. “Mom! I really conquered my fears today!”
And then he ran off to do it again.
I realize now that I haven’t been hiding in contemplation so much as in fear. I’ve been afraid. This post changes everything for me, but it’s time. If my child, who has come so very far in his almost-nine years of life, can stand up to his own fears and break through to the brighter side, so can I. And I will, for him.
This is my vertical drop.
So, here goes.
My name is Wendy, and I have Asperger’s.
I am autistic.
And I am happy.
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As much as I complain about the state of autism support here in the Lower Mainland, we also have some pretty cool things going on. There are several societies that provide access to camps, supports, and many other activities for autistic individuals.
One group here doing it really right is the Canucks Autism Network (CAN). They help keep autistic kids involved in sports and a lot of other social events. CAN usually tries to involve siblings as well, to help foster a whole family experience. We absolutely love them.
Jack and I were very excited to attend the CAN 2nd Annual Sports Day on May 18th at BC Place. It was a day of serious fun with representatives from the Vancouver Canucks, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, the BC Lions, and the Vancouver Canadians. I could tell you all about it, but I’d rather show you. Enjoy!
We arrived a bit early, so it was a good hour before the event started. CAN had set up face painting and colouring, but the waiting still got old after a bit. Anticipation and autism don’t mix well. The CAN volunteers are seasoned, though, and did their very best to keep everyone intact.
As everyone was introduced, we got a cool view of everything from above.
The kids were divided into four groups, and each group spent twenty-five minutes with an activity, then rotated to the next one. Jack’s group had hockey first!
There were photographers and cameras capturing it all, and showing everyone on the jumbotron. Jack noticed it quickly, and played right to the camera. That’s my boy.
Fin, the Canucks mascot, had a great time with the kids. He has a thing about chewing on their heads, though. They should keep an eye on that.
Next up was football, and Jack learned how to run the ball, throw the ball, and do a wicked touchdown dance.
We moved on to soccer, and Jack put the Whitecaps guys through their paces. A lot of the other kids were ready for a break, but Jack kept on going. And going. And going.
Finally, we moved over to baseball. After some pointers from Mama, Jack smacked a few line drives.
Canucks announcer Ed Murdoch closed out the event.
We had a lot of fun. Thank you CAN, for everything you do!
Click HERE if you’re interested in joining CAN.
Click HERE if you’d like to be a CAN volunteer.
Click HERE for information on how to donate to and fundraise for CAN.
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I don’t want a lot on Mother’s Day. I really don’t. I worked in restaurants for years (and my husband still does), so the last thing I’m interested in is taking all of my children out with the rest of humanity to battle for overpriced prime rib. We can do that anytime.
I also don’t feel the need to do anything “special,” since we do special things a lot. We have “Family Adventure Days” frequently, where we go adventuring. We explore the natural world around us, visit new museums, and just play as a family. So, Mother’s Day doesn’t require adventure.
What I want most on Mother’s Day is serenity.
At least, as much as I’m able, since my husband usually has to go to work. He’s a restaurant manager, and the rest of humanity still wants that prime rib.
This year, I requested that for the morning and early afternoon (before he leaves), to be left to my garden. I am still trying to finish my beds, and would like some uninterrupted time alone with the backyard.
I also asked for my children to help clean up the living room and kitchen. You know, where all of their toys are strewn.
That particular request was met with an uproar heard across the land. Two of my children decided they would rather not observe Mother’s Day at all, if it meant they actually had to pick up after themselves.
Jack took issue as well, in typical Jack fashion. He made the case as to why I was completely out of line by merely suggesting I make him do anything. On a weekend.
“I like to live my (weekend) days naturally, you can’t make me do a lot of action.”
OK. Apparently, any structured activity that’s not his idea is totally out of the question. He also insinuated that I’m trying to affect his brain.
By asking him to clean.
“You can’t keep this thing (his brain) up forever, that’s bad parenting, Mama.”
It took everything I had to keep a straight face.
I don’t want to be accused of being a bad parent, on Mother’s Day of all days. I’m making my husband do it. Father’s Day isn’t for another month, he’ll be fine.
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