Friday, May 18, 2007

Adventures in Autism, Continued...

You all know that I've had some major ups and downs this past year, related to Wyatts school, and dealing with his autism. I've been under a lot of stress dealing with his teachers, making changes to his Individual Education Plan, struggling to find him the services he needs to function at the highest level he can. It's a constant battle, and sometimes it's exhausting. Sometimes dealing with raising a child with a disability can cloud my vision, and make me lose sight of what's really important, and that is the incredible joy this little boy brings to me every day. There are still major issues that need to be worked on with him, in terms of his education, but I'm not going to talk about those today.

Today, I'm choosing to focus on what makes Wy so unique, and so special. Wy looks at the world in a totally different way than you or I do. Things that we don't think twice about, things that are mundane and ordinary to us are endlessly fascinating, and magical to him.

Automatic doors, for example. I never used to think twice about walking into a grocery store, but when Wy's with me, just passing through the door becomes an adventure. It's new to him every time. We stand outside the door, and he runs up to it, and when it opens, he laughs and jumps up and down in pure 6 year old delight. Then he wants to wait for it to close and do it again, so we do! People walk past and stare, some try to be helpful and encourage him to go in, but Wy's working on his own timetable, so I politely thank them, and let him move at his pace.

Exits on the highway are another source of delight for him. He loves to watch the numbers go up or down, and anticipates each one, telling me which exit is coming up, and if we're getting off at Nana's exit, or Daddys, or the exit for the mall. To me, exits are an indication of where I'm going, to Wy, they're a source of order and structure in what can be a chaotic and confusing world for him.

Music is another of Wy's great loves. If you've ever called my house and gotten the answering machine, you've heard him singing. What amazes me, is that he's got an incredible sense of pitch. If he's singing along with something and the song is too low for him, he'll jump up an octave, but still stay in tune! I've never known a 6 year old to do that, I find that amazing. His brother John and his cousins Nikkie and Stevie all play guitar, and Wy loves to be around them when they're playing, it gives him so much joy. Somewhere along the way, Wyatt decided that my mother plays the banjo (which, if you've ever met my mother is REALLY funny). Every time we go to my parents house, Wy asks Nana to get her banjo and play. We've tried to tell him Nana doesn't have a banjo, but that's his reality, and he's sticking to it!

Wy has more fun riding the garden cart down the hill in my parents backyard than most kids have at an entire amusement park. To him, Cheese Doodles are mana from heaven, Apple juice is the necter of the Gods, trains were put on this earth for his enjoyment, and Salem, our cat, is his best friend ever. A rainy day is the perfect time to go outside and dance, lightning and fireworks are both equally exciting, and elevators are the best thing in the mall.

At this point in my life, it would be so easy to get caught up in the material, and the mundane, to fixate on things that ultimately are unimportant. Having Wy keeps me from doing that. Wy reminds me every day that what is most precious, most important, are the small moments, the inbetween spaces in our lives, where true connection takes place. For me, Wy IS that connection, and I try to carry what I learn from him into the rest of my life, the rest of my relationships. It's not always easy, but ultimately, it's worth it, for him, and for me.

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