I had a dream that my 4 year old son asked me to take him to his Auntie’s house. I told him no and then ran away to hide in my bedroom.
Boom, I’m awake.
Then it hits me hard. This isn’t the first time I have been slammed with an overpowering wave of amazement, worry, and fear that drowns any chance of falling back to sleep. This won’t be the last time either I am sure. It comes with the territory it seems.
It is part of raising a child with autism.
“…so I am lying in bed, just like Brian Wilson did…” The same series of thoughts occur every time I wake up from these dreams; and today is no different.
I immediately think of what Jordan said to me and focus intently on memorizing the sound of his voice. But it’s to no avail. Even if I could remember the exact pronunciation and pitch of his words it would be all for naught because tomorrow’s dream his voice would be invariably different.
That is part of raising a non-verbal child with autism.
Then I start to worry again. What if it is always just a dream? What if Jordan’s autism prevents him from ever speaking coherently? How can I reduce his frustrations with communicating with others? How can I take all of his pain away? Or does it even bother him? Maybe Jordan going through life as a “Sheldon Cooper” wouldn’t be a bad thing. After all, Sheldon is clearly on the autism spectrum but is smart, successful and content. Sheldon is not in the least bit concerned with how the rest of the world views him. He has dealt with autism quite well. Although, Jordan is not on a sitcom…
Wishing for alternate realities. Part of raising a child with autism.
My thoughts revert back to the dream. Why did I hide when Jordan asked me that question? He asked so nicely. There is no reason why I should deny him a visit with my sister. Unless…
You see, I have learned a lot in the last couple of years while raising an autistic child and I have secretly told Jordan all about it.
What if Jordan starts to talk more? Worse yet, carrys a conversation. What if he tells people what I have said and done?
I have told him how we have learned in a hurry who our true friends are. I have explained how family members can rally while others can quickly slide away. I have shown him how long waiting lists really are. I have taught him how some community systems are a waste of tax dollars while the ones we need most are almost out of reach. I have told him that people will judge him and his mother and I. I have reminded him how people can overwhelm us with love and support. I have explained to him that as a man it is sometimes safer to be seen and not heard. King of the jungle or not, it`s the mommy lion that demands to protect her cub! That is why I can`t have him talking. He might tell his mommy what daddy does some nights. But I shouldn`t be afraid.
After all, holding your child tight and promising him that everything will work out fine is part of raising any child.
But is it an empty promise for a child with autism? How can I know when every autistic child is unique? What if everything won’t be fine? This is what is keeping me awake.
So maybe if I change my promise to Jordan the dreams will cease and I can sleep again. That’s it. From this day forward whether it’s rocking him after a meltdown, or putting him to bed for the night, or simply hanging out on the couch watching Sylvester and Tweety. I know exactly what to say now. Ok Jordan talk away.
Start by telling people how your daddy holds you tight and promises that he will always love you.