By the time our son was three, we were well aware that things were “different.”
Tyler had a severe aversion to sounds.
He would cover his ears in noisy places and would not go into any place that had a visible smoke detector/fire alarm on the wall.
Tags in clothing were horribly irritating to him and I had to cut them out of every shirt or jacket that he wore.
By Kindergarten, we realized that he had much more energy than his classmates, and definitely had a higher level of knowledge of advanced things.
At five years old, he was obsessed with globes and maps, and could point to any country on the map that we asked him to.
He loved vacuum cleaners and we had to make special trips to Lowe’s Home Improvement Store just so that he could look at them.
He recognized them all by their brand name.
His Matchbox cars in his bedroom were all lined up neatly, by make and model, and we knew better than to disrupt their precise order that he had designed!
And then there were the tantrums…he could not be reasoned with during one of these episodes, until it was completely over.
These tantrums would leave us exhausted as we tried to no avail to calm him down.
He was our first child, but we realized that all of this probably wasn’t quite “typical.”
This was truly the most difficult part to deal with.
Meal times were (and still are at times) beyond stressful.
He just wouldn’t eat.
Just looking at certain foods would turn him off from eating.
Family members and friends would tell us, “He’ll eat when he’s ready. He’s fine.”
Meanwhile, my husband and I were going out of our minds to get him to eat ANYTHING other than yogurt or pudding.
It took the work of an amazing Speech/Language Pathologist to get him to FINALLY chew bites of food.
I swear she must have some kind of magical powers!
His first meal of solid food was in her office, when he was three and a half years old.
Yes, it was a moment to remember and there are photos documenting this pivotal victory!
The combination of all these “differences” together finally landed him a firm diagnosis.
After years of wondering what it all meant, and many Early Intervention strategies later, our son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age six.
This meant he was on the Autism Spectrum.
What would Asperger’s Syndrome mean for our beautiful, blue eyed, blond haired boy?
Would he grow up to be independent?
This started us down a path of reading many, many books on Asperger’s Syndrome, Sensory Integration and Autism.
Temple Grandin became a household name for us.
We found ourselves on a mission to “fix it.”
We found an amazing Social Counselor that would forever have an impact on our lives and help Tyler with social skills and self-calming techniques.
We were lucky to have her at the beginning of our Asperger’s journey and she helped pave the way through this scary, new world.
We dove in head first so that we could understand our son better and be the parents that he needed us to be.
Would we do anything and everything to help our child? Absolutely.
Fast forward five years…our son is an intelligent, caring, quirky and creative kid.
He has an intense love for Science and Minecraft.
We get through them, and we move on.
Noises are still tough for him, but ear buds and an iPod have proven to be incredible tools!
Social, Occupational and Equestrian Therapies are a part of life.
If too much social interaction causes over-stimulation, we let him chill out by himself with a video game.
Days straight of only eating chicken nuggets or pizza take the place of days before only eating yogurt and pudding.
If our meal includes “gross food” that turns him off from eating, we don’t eat it in front of him.
It’s a part of him that makes him a unique individual.
He will tell you, “Autism is part of me and I wouldn’t change it.”
This all may seem odd to some people, but being different is our “normal.”
Are we perfect parents? No way.
Do we still get it wrong with him sometimes? All the time.
A great deal of the time we feel like we’re flying by the seats of our pants.
And we’ve learned how to better fit into Tyler’s world.
We strive for continuous learning.
Nothing is “wrong” with our child.
He is on the Autism Spectrum.
He did eat when he was ready; he just needed a little extra help
Have you ever flown with your disabled child?