A while back I wrote a piece about things to never say to a special needs mum. I can’t read that piece back any more. It came from anger, I was so angry the day I wrote it and it came across. I flinch when I think about it.
I have to admit something that perhaps you’re not really allowed to admit to, as a mum of a child with Aspergers, I’m angry a lot. I get so angry at the hand my son has been dealt in life, that he will struggle because he can’t reach the acceptable ‘norm’ for behaviour in society. I get angry he can’t relate to me, he can’t understand a simple joke or know that when I say I’ve been gardening and have green fingers he doesn’t realise I don’t mean it literally. I get angry that so many times in our lives I just don’t know what I’m doing and I’m terrified I’m messing everything up.
I get angry at the school who are always telling me, Alex can’t play with the other children. Alex can’t sit still, Alex can’t keep his homework organised, Alex can’t control his temper, Alex can’t ride the bus without supervision.
The list of things Alex can’t do is endless according to his school.
I get angry at other parents, every year we have a big birthday party and invite as many people as we can, we have cake and games and we wait and every year slowly the number of children coming drops. Every year I wait patiently for that return invite for Alex and every year it never comes. No matter how many times I check his school bag. He never notices for which I am grateful, it is my heart that breaks.
He can’t handle change, he can’t tolerate days out with large crowds, he can’t stand when people move his things, he can’t eat certain foods or handle certain textures, he can’t maintain eye contact or understand small talk, he can’t read your facial expression or tone of voice and know when you’re upset or unhappy, he can’t judge when an activity is dangerous and he can’t empathise with you.
His clinical report read that ‘his Social Interaction Deviance Composite indicates social communicative problems of clinical significance.’
His whole entire life is full of can’t and it makes me angry.
Every professional we spoke to, every one we could access (which in all honesty is not as many as we would like, there is a wealth of help out there if you have deep pockets which we don’t) every single one spent so much time telling us just what Alex couldn’t do. It has pushed us to the edge and, I can’t lie, we were ready to give up. In a world full of can’t what exactly can we do except just be angry?
We are at a low point. 2 years of fighting to be told so many times, he just can’t do it.
Well, you know what? They are right. There are so many things he can’t do, compared to them but I’ve been thinking. Why is that the norm? Why does he have to do what they do?
The next time I speak to a professional and they tell me Alex can’t do this I shall say, you are right, he can’t. But here is a list of some of the the things Alex can do.
He can make up board games, big complicated board games that take him hours of drawing and planning and have set rules but at the same time are simple enough so that he can play them with his 4yr old brother.
He can charm animals from the trees. They love him. He’s like Dr dolittle with animals and it’s amazing to watch. He shows them real love.
He can find humour in places we can’t.
If there is a subject he likes he can focus for hours and take real enjoyment out of something so mundane we would have written it off as not worth our time.
He can make me laugh, his sense of humour is a little off kilter and I love him like that.
He can solve a math problem without even breaking a sweat.
He can make a friend. He doesn’t need a circle, he has one close friend and he is happy that way.
He can hug me.
He can bake. Strange cakes using every ingredient in my cupboard that he plays with for hours, mixing them together to see what works and what doesn’t, leaving a huge mess behind himself to produce something he names Alex cake with great pride.
He can remember tiny details that you can’t. He knows what I said we would do a week ago, he knows where things go and when they have been moved. He remembers what you were wearing and how you looked.
He can programme a computer game and make and edit videos. He already knows what he wants out of life at 12 years old. He is single minded and focused. He even has his own YouTube channel.
He is more honest than 99% of the people you have met in your life. There is no pretence, there is only truth.
Most importantly he can be my son and I can be his mother. I can stop being angry and listening to the professionals about all the things he can’t do and I can start to look at all the things he can do and I can love him unconditionally and forever.
I recently heard somebody talk, she said to take the things they can do and make them big, I can understand that but I don’t want to do that. I want to sit back and look at all the little things he can do and celebrate each and every one. I want to take my time to reconnect with my son and remember how amazing he is. We don’t need to go big, we just need the time to stop hearing the word can’t and remember we are his parents and we know he can.