An Autism Mama’s tears can be translated to a thousand languages.
If you’d asked me, I probably would have said that I wouldn’t cry. I’m not normally a crier. I have friends who cry for everything, happy, sad, surprised or angry.
It’s not that I don’t cry. In fact, since my son’s diagnosis with autism I’ve done my share of crying.
I cried when we first received the diagnosis because after the initial numbness, there was nothing else to do but cry. I cried with frustration from knocking on endless doors looking for help and getting nowhere. I cried when I was dismissed as just a mother who couldn’t possibly know what she was talking about. I cried at the cruel, unkind words of adults who should have known better. I cried when I realized just how large the chasm was between my son and his typically developing peers. On those days, it felt like crying was the only val.
Last week was different. I received messages from two of my son’t teachers and immediately panicked. What could possibly have caused this urgency to get in touch? Usually, when they do get in touch, they wait until the end of the day to let me know just how challenging the day was. There wasn’t much to the message but there was an attachment.
I started thinking about Ethan’s first lesson with the music therapist. It had been a complete disaster! In fact, all of his first lessons were. He screamed, got up, tried to play with and touch everything except what the therapist was trying to introduce. She was too polite to tell me that she thought I was crazy for thinking that he loved music. He was seemingly being very clear on telling her the exact opposite.
Here he was, all these years later playing the ukulele and singing with Ali, his music therapist. It was only a practice session though.
A few days later, he performed at assembly, in front of his entire school! He was calm and confident and deliberate as always. I watched the videos and remembered the little boy who had spent his first few years being hypersensitive to touch. He hated having mittens or socks on. I saw the little boy who couldn’t touch paint, certain foods, sand at the park, nor most arts and crafts items. That little boy was now using touch to skillfully play the ukulele. Again the tears of gratitude flowed.
I cried with gratitude for how far Ethan had come. I cried in gratitude to a dedicated music therapist who saw beyond the initial behaviour and created a welcoming nurturing space.
As an autism mama, I’ve done my share of crying over the years. My tears have different tastes and shades and can be translated to every language on Earth. When I look back, I’ve probably cried more as I did last week, tears of pride and gratitude. I cry because I don’t take anything for granted, milestones that other parents may not even notice are hard-won for our family.
Some days my boys make me cry and I wouldn’t have it any other way.