Adjust Your Perspective

I have a bumper sticker on my van. It’s the only one, and it says: 

Autism – adjust your perspective.

For some reason that simple line – adjust your perspective – spoke to me. About autism, and then about so many other things as well.

For autism, though, this is how MY perspective changed. I used to be so afraid of autism. I remember just after I found out that it was likely, still not confirmed mind you, but I knew. And I tried so hard to be ok but I was terrified. I looked at my tiny baby boy, only 20 months old. He sat there in the middle of living room floor on his blankie, obsessively watching his favorite TV show. The only thing that he would watch. Yo Gabba Gabba. It was 2 or 3 am and we were the only ones awake and the house was quiet and dark. It was a moment. I remember it well. He didn’t care at all where I was. Just him and the TV. As the tv flickered, I watched him from the edge of the room. Like a movie…he grew smaller and more distant from me as I let the fear creep in all over me. This was my third child. I had never felt like this before. I felt like I was a stranger to my child. And he was a stranger to me. My baby! Autism felt like a thief that had stolen my perfect plan. My perfect life. 

But it hadn’t. It didn’t.

My perspective has changed so much over the last several years. Words are hard to find to completely express it. I had to go through some stuff to get through those fears. It’s real fear, but it’s for the wrong reasons. My baby was and is still mine. I had 3 perfect boys in their own right. It took some time, but in short I realized my kids aren’t here to fulfill MY perfect life. They aren’t my play things to dress up. They aren’t here to fulfill my lost dreams of being an artist or athlete or whatever. They just ARE. 

They aren’t created by me. They come through me, they are of me, but they are their own beings. SO THAT WAS PRETTY IMPORTANT. That seems obvious now, I know, but I’m not sure I really always felt that way. 

One of my greatest revelations was that my son has autism. I don’t. He lives and breathes being autistic. It’s part of him. It’s not a condition or really even a disability, although I understand why they call it that. Life is harder for him right now. He does have to work 5 times as hard as everyone to make everyone feel more comfortable around him. But he’s so healthy! He’s so happy! You should just live with us to know how we just love his spirit and cooky ideas and brilliance. The things that autism bring are not all negative. He’s kind of awesome. And I feel privleged to be the one to help guide him through this life. I feel like I learn more about myself and the finer details of life through his perspective of the world. And it occurs to me that it may not be just because he has autism. Maybe it’s because I’m not pushing MY perspective on him constantly like I did with his brothers. (The youngest always gets it easier).  

Anyway, that’s my perspective change. I don’t feel like life is a test I have to pass. Or parenting is something I need to prove to anyone. All my kids are unique and have plans of their own. Not my dreams, but theirs. I want it to be theirs! And I could talk another few paragraphs on the stuff I learned with my teenage boys, but I won’t. I think you get my point. And they are old enough to read and plot revenge. Soo…yeah.

My big point is I don’t want ANY of my kids to feel success in life has to do with their house size or bank account or what people think of them. How wonderful if I could send them off onto this world to find and live their true purpose. To feel fulfilled and happy and peaceful. May sound lame. But that’s me now. I’ve changed. And I kind of have autism to thank for it. It’s liberating and wonderful in a way. To have life drive you off the beaten path onto a whole new unexplored road. I still am me. I still live to do my best. I can’t help feeling that way, it’s engrained in me I guess. But what I consider my best life has changed. And I know my kids will be better off for it. I’m not saying I know what their future holds. I don’t. But that’s the beauty. Because really no one does. We hope for the best, prepare for the worse and have faith in our selves to handle whatever comes up. Life….it’s just about living each day to the fullest. And I’m the luckiest because I feel like I really do. And I feel I just have to add this because I could not be where I am without my amazing husband who is an extraordinarily patient and loving father.(Like almost annoying. :)… but awesome!)  I just find it easier to write just from my own perspective, but he is without a doubt the only reason I’m sane. They say 80% of parents of special needs kids end in divorce. That is so sad, because If I’m any good at all at what I do as a mom, it’s because he holds my hand every step of the way. It’s true. We are a team. So there you have it. Adjust your perspective and see the gifts in the details.

Oh my gosh this is SO long! Go take a nap now…eat a cookie, you deserve it!

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Suzy Higley

Suzy Higley

Wife to my childhood sweetheart. Stay-at-home mom of 3 awesome boys, ages 14, 12, and 5. My youngest is non-verbal and has Autism. Currently starting a community with other Autism Moms called Better Together. More social learning opportunities for our kids on the spectrum are needed...and because I couldn't find them, I'm creating them. I also draw and paint on both paper and walls...and furniture. And speaking of furniture, I have a chronic furniture rearranging condition that I'm seeking help for. Not really...it's my favorite.

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  • Steve Meddaugh

    I love the part about how our kids just are who they are. It seems like sometimes when we are the most frustrated with them it’s because we forget they are independent creatures with minds different than ours. I am a much better parent when I can remember to let them just be them.