I wish I had a dime for every time someone told me my son does not look autistic. No, really, I would have a pretty hefty bank account. I have heard it from strangers, friends and family. I have actually heard more than once that I am lucky he does not act as autistic as some children with autism. To some, this may seem like a compliment, but for me, I know too many amazing little people on the spectrum to think negatively when I hear the word autistic. I see countless videos of my friends' children on the spectrum who are laughing and smiling and enjoying life.
Granted not every moment is easy or happy, but with or without autism all families have our challenging days and moments. Before delving into the world of autism, my husband and I were guilty of believing these stereotypes as well. We told ourselves many times that our son could not have autism because he smiled and made eye contact. This is a very common misconception, which is perpetuated by pediatricians using that as the only criteria to diagnose autism and dismissing parents' concerns about their children. We watched Mercury Rising and saw way too many similarities in our own child, but we comforted ourselves with the fact that our son talks, our son smiles, and our son looks at us.
Once we got the diagnosis, things started to make sense. And yet the more I learned about autism, the more I saw that it presents differently in everyone affected. All of my preconceived notions regarding autism flew out the window. I used to hear people talking about a family with a child with ASD and I automatically assumed that family was sentenced to a lifelong hardship. I thought, "That poor mother, I am so glad all of my children are healthy."
But now that mother is me, and that is my son, and this is our family; this is what I want you to know: My child is not any less because he has autism, he is more. ....