As we journey towards and official diagnosis and a deeper understanding of what it means to live on the spectrum, there are so many things for which to be thankful.
I am thankful for the amazing perspective each of us has on life. I’ve always known that I don’t see things the way others do. I am constantly learning to understand how other people see the world, and how my view is different. I am learning, every day, how to accommodate and even internalise those perspectives that I like, and how to compartmentalise and accept those perspectives that I don’t. My daughters provide me even keener insights into this with their incredible minds and deep insights into seemingly every day things.
I am thankful that our symptoms are minor. So minor, that our diagnosis may simply turn out to be “somewhere on the spectrum” rather than official Asperger’s. We do have gut health complications. We do have migraines. We have nightmares and growing pains and melt downs. But individually, none of these things is even peculiar. It’s only when we add them all together, and include those private things that no one but us knows about how we think, that we begin to see a pattern. To the naked eye, some could even call us “normal”. Ha ha. Like that’s a thing.
I am thankful that we all have speech – precociously and often overwhelmingly – but speech nonetheless. While we might battle to express out needs in ways that are clear to others, we still can express them at all. And since those closest to us are so like us, mostly they know what we need. (Sometimes, even when we ourselves do not).
I’m thankful to have walked this road myself for so long, and without diagnosis, to have developed the tools my daughters need. And I’m thankful to have access to the tools to allow diagnosis – and understanding – so that we can get even more tools. Tools like support and a reasonable explanation for certain behaviours.
I’m thankful for writers like Jess Wilson, whose blog, A Diary of a Mom, inspires and encourages me every day. She recently posted the following on Facebook, and I have to share it because it is beautiful and true. It’s also pretty much the whole of a post I was percolating in my head this week, and she’s articulated it so much better than I ever could. I wish I could link to the post it’s from, but I couldn’t find it. So here it is:
“To recover is to regain something that was lost or to heal, as from a disease.
My daughter has done neither. While she regresses periodically due to dysregulation from stress, she does not have Regressive Autism. She did not lose novel speech at a certain age; she never had it. Instead, she has, over the years, been finding access to it, creating pathways, learning to translate her thoughts into words, essentially becoming fluent in a foreign language, step by step by purposeful, painstaking step. As she broadens her ability to communicate her needs, she is able to more effectively manage most of the other challenges that autism presents for her.
She does not have a disease from which her body is healing. She does not have gut problems nor an overload of heavy metal in her system. She does not have anything that time in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber is going to ‘fix.’ My daughter isn’t sick.
Her brain is wired differently than the average bear. It just is. As such, her development is not linear. It’s not simply a slower journey along a prescribed path. Instead, it’s a walk down a whole different road that’s really not a line at all, but a prism – a constellation of challenges and talents that make her who she is.”