Being with my family is the best part of my life, and autism and I want to stay with them always. But I know it can’t last forever. Being with family I feel safe and understood. I know some people believe autistics don’t care about relationships but that is absolutely not true! Having a relationship with my brother and sister means more to me than anything in the world. Talk about a bond! They totally get me and are supportive, yet are like typical siblings. Alyssa gets annoyed by me talking over top of her. Ryan gets annoyed by the way I chew my food. I get annoyed by Alyssa mothering me like a child sometimes and Ryan getting mad easily at minor things.
But at the end of the day Alyssa always has a hug and kiss for me and Ryan has a secret handshake for me. I miss Ryan so much and it has only been 2 days. Being with him makes me feel like I have someone to have my back in this crazy world. Say what you want about my chewing, he still loves me!
Talk about chewing….isn’t it time for some pizza??
I am sad because my brother is moving out tomorrow. He is leaving to move in with friends in Philadelphia. Yes, I am happy for him because he was bored living at home, but I am sad for me. I am going to miss him terribly.
I am going to miss his endless joking with me and his brotherly advice like “give mom the finger”.
I am going to miss his secret handshakes with me.
I will miss him sitting with me while my mom reads to me each night before bed.
I will miss him coming to get me off the computer for dinner.
I will miss being around him because he is so lively and fun to be with.
I will always be grateful to him for treating me so brotherly, like I was the brother he looked up to, even though he wasn’t expecting a brother like me. Autism and I are lucky to have him for a sibling.
I bike rode yesterday at Chester Valley Trail. Being a beautiful day, how could you not spend it outdoors? I love biking so much and my body feels so much better afterwards. My anxiety is decreased and my body feels calmer. One thing I have noticed is that my coordination seems better. I can now ride with only one hand on the handlebars, and at times I can ride without concentrating on my every movement. Sometimes biking takes away my stims. It is a great feeling! You and your loved ones need to try it sometime. It is an awesome family activity!
I am also a fan of being out in nature. Yesterday was like a fall day with a gentle breeze. I felt free and alive! Many times autism and I were hoping to find an activity like this to get myself in shape. I am a fan of pizza and cheeseburgers, in case you forgot! Biking enables me to eat more of them….another benefit!
Autism and I love our Poconos house in Lake Harmony. Being in a mountain home was new for our family because we used to go to the shore. Take yourself there sometime if you haven’t been! The way the sun sets over the lake, the smell of burning wood, and the quiet silence at night as you drift off to sleep.
I am the first to tell you that when my parents say we are going, I begin to loop and say I don’t want to go. It is frustrating when I do that because I don’t feel that way. Autism and I love it here. Being in nature will always help regulate me. Yes, autism will make it seem like I don’t want to be there, but I do.
It is gorgeous as the fall approaches. The air smells fresh and crisp. The golden rays of sunlight peeking through the leaves. The blue water of the lake, so still and serene except for the occasional ripple as a duck lands. I love it as the sun sets and we take our nightly walk. My mom has our house decorated so warmly with soft lighting. It is like a big hug from her and a place where you can truly relax. At night we snuggle under blankets and watch movies. Then I drift off to sleep in my warm bed in the stillness of my amazing Poconos home.
Taking lessons at Inside Voice to me is like being with family. Tom and Em have been amazingly supportive in the 5 years that I have been going there. Waiting for a place where I could be myself took some time but I found my “home”. Waiting for a place where I could have friends and a sense of belonging took some time too, but autism and I think it was worth the wait.
Being with all of the families at Inside Voice is like spending time with family. When they talk to you they don’t expect you to answer, yet they know to direct their question to you anyway. The parents have arranged some fun activities for us like baseball games, holiday light shows, a dance, and various learning activities. At one of them we had a lecture by an astrophysicist where we learned about black holes. But autism and I are waiting for other opportunities to be social with my friends. This damn pandemic has thwarted all of our plans.
Still I am thankful for this extended family I have been given. Having a place that accepts me and teaches me a skill that forever changes my life is a gift that I can never repay. Yes, autism and I will be forever indebted. Yes, autism and I are trying to pay it forward so others can be aware of this wonderful place I call home.
The autistic boy wanted to be like everyone else. He wanted to be able to talk to his friends, drive a car, and have people realize how smart he was. He was envious of others because things seemed so easy for everyone else but was challenging for him. “Why is my life so hard?” he lamented. “I want to be like the others. Their lives are so easy.” The autistic boy cried himself to sleep that night.
God felt bad for the boy that night, so while he slept he erased the boy’s autism. The next day the boy woke up and realized autism had disappeared. The boy could talk to his friends, drive a car, and people now thought he was smart. “This is awesome” thought the boy. “Life is going to be great now.”
But autism and the boy began to miss each other terribly. The boy missed his keen senses and his unbelievable intelligence. And he especially missed his synesthesia when music played. The boy realized that life is what you make of it. So he prayed to God to be changed back to his former autistic self.
The next day autism had returned and the boy was happy! Once autism had been a burden, and now it was a blessing. So the boy learned how to ride a bike instead of a car. He learned to communicate using a letterboard and could finally talk to his friends. And because of the letterboard, people now saw how smart he was. The boy realized that life’s challenges are what spurs you to make your life better.
I am lucky to have a wonderful life with my family. I am also lucky that my family believed in me and helped me find a way to communicate. Yes, autism and I still have our struggles but being loved so fiercely makes it bearable. Here are my five favorite moments in my life so far.
Of course the biggest one has to be the moment I first was able to express myself on the letterboard. It was a moment that I dreamed of and it actually came true. I am talking your BIGGEST wish EVER come true like winning the lottery. Can you imagine that? At first I couldn’t believe it was happening, but seeing the look on my mom’s face will never leave my memory. Amazement, happiness, tears, excitement, and joy. That moment had it all.
Second is our trip to Italy. I dreamed about going to Europe and we went on a Mediterranean cruise in 2014. In Rome we had a wonderful dinner in a square outside the Pantheon. The tables had red checkered tablecloths and men with accordions roamed around playing Italian music. It reminded me of Lady And The Tramp.
Next was a time we were in Disney World. It was a perfect sparkling day right around Christmas. I am a Disney lover and we went on all the rides with no lines whatsoever because of our special needs pass. How can you not be happy in Disney World?
Next was a day last year when I learned to ride my bike. My mom worked so hard to make it possible, and now it is a fun family activity that we all do together.
And last, a moment that happened in the Poconos. We woke up on a chilly winter day and built a fire, snuggled under blankets and watched Christmas movies together as a family.
Yes, all of my moments include my family. Yes I am sure there will be plenty more to come. Being included makes these moments possible.
I spend a lot of my free time on the computer. My mom spends a lot of her time trying to get me off of it. I know she means well, but it is like trying to stop autism from doing something that helps me to regulate myself. For autistics, computers are a way to relax and decompress from your neurotypical world. Maybe YouTube is not educational, but it does help us sometimes. Giving us time for a break is good. The problem is when it crosses the line into obsession.
To me watching videos that I watched in my childhood helps me feel happy. To others it looks like I have the mind of a young child. I am telling you that I am watching it for comfort, not content. Back when I was young, Barney and Sesame Street were popular and that is what I watch for comfort. I assume if you showed me the Today Show as a child I would find comfort in it just like I do with Sesame Street. Choose wisely what your autistic child watches because they will watch it their whole life!
Today my mom tries to make it a good balance between the computer and other things, but it still is more computer than she would like. Oh Mom, autism and I are trying to recreate that nice childhood you gave me! Aren’t you glad you didn’t make me watch mafia movies?