Joseph, not a day passes without me contemplating your future and what life will ultimately hold for you. I know you need me to help you understand, what is very much an alien world to yours.
Most days I set you small challenges, without you even knowing it. I have hope that these small tests will help you grow and give you the independence you will certainly need to live your life to its fullest.
My motherly instinct wants to surround you with cotton wool and protect you from the environment you struggle to comprehend but I also want to give you the life skills you will inevitably need; I can't shield you from this world forever.
Today's task was simple. We had visited the Space Centre and you wanted to purchase a toy, so I asked you to take the item to the counter and pay for it alone. I considered whether I should advise the assistant of your autism and why you may not talk in the same way as another eight-year old would. I needed reassurance that he would show you the patience and understanding you deserved.
I gave you basic instructions that I knew you could follow and stepped aside so that you could do this without me. I glowed with pride when you excitedly told him, "I've found a rocket" and handed over your money along with the item for him to scan. The assistant responded with "good for you" showing little enthusiasm and awareness of your accomplishment. You even waited for your change (as instructed) and everyone around you was oblivious to the importance of your success. Even you, despite my over-the-top praise. You were pleased with your rocket and nothing else mattered; why would it?
Life for you will always be a series of challenges; some minor and some far more significant. It's easy to forget how difficult life can be, seeing it through your lens. Part of me would love not to have to extract so much joy from these small feats and take most of it for granted. It's very much a juggling act in rewarding/praising you for what others may see as something trivial and also not correcting you for every minor thing that doesn't go to plan. I know I don't get it right every time and I'm not sure I know of anyone who does.
As your parent, I'll continue to guide you and nurture your ability. I know that you have bigger challenges ahead, but I have the belief. I always do.
Follow our journey here.
Photo: Tina Medlock