When it comes into the conversation that my son is autistic, a look of recognition appears on the other persons face "oh yes my friends son is autistic, he's in mainstream and they are brilliant with him so he's doing well" or, "Yes my neighbour’s child is autistic, she's great with numbers, it's quite amazing".
My heart sinks.
Just like a lot of people this is the image people think of when autism is mentioned.
Someone 'quirky' with struggles, but in the right environment they can do OK, maybe even discover that special gift that is associated with autism.
Then when people finally meet my son, I see it hit them, yeah you weren't expecting that kind of autism.
My son is the other kind of autism, the severe kind that people find hard to understand.
The kind that when he's making his noises in public people divert their eyes because they don't know what to do. Or worse, they stare!
My son doesn't speak or play with friends, he wears nappies and uses his fingers to eat. His hands and legs don't work that good.
He screeches and makes random noises. Flapping and stamping his feet.
My son is nine years old but inside is still only one.
When he was little he never smiled or responded to people, so when strangers smiled and said hello to him they would quickly give up because they got no response.
That's my toddler you gave up on. It might not show but he can still hear you.
He is the child that doesn't get invited to parties or play dates.
The child people stopped talking to because they gave up.
The child that had no other option than to attend a special school.
For a while I felt crushed when the conversation turned to autistic people having special gifts. Like it was something that was expected.
I was even asked on numerous occasions what his gift is! "oh he is a gift - to me".
But he does have a gift. A beautiful, magical gift. The best kind.
His smile - it's like a magic potion, one of those smiles that takes me away from it all, that makes everything OK.
It melts me and heals me all at the same time.
A smile that clears my view so I can see the stuff that really matters.
My son has that kind of autism and the most perfect gift.
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