Sunday, September 27, 2009

The New Normal

It is inevitable that a group of moms, gathered together in the late hours of an evening, are going to talk about their kids. It is also inevitable that a group of moms who all have kids with Autism are going to talk about their experiences with Autism.

What surprised me this past weekend, as I sat with friends around my wine laden dining room table, was how much we talked about our neuro-typical kids. Not that we don't talk about them in general, but these were conversations about our struggles with our NT kids. We compared melt-downs, discussed sensitivities, commisserated about difficult social situations. Sounds familiar, right? Each of those could be chapter titles in any "living with Autism" book. So why did we spend so much time trying to figure out what to do with our NT children, aren't those supposed to be the easy ones?

The way I figure it, those of us with loved ones on the Autism Spectrum spend so much time learning all there is to know about that world. We research and advocate. We rearrange our lives and our homes to make them inclusive in every sense. We cook for a special (and limited) diet. We surround ourselves with activity schedules, therapists, playgroups, and IEPs. We know how to live with Autism.

Autism has become our normal.

So the new challenge is to learn about dealing with the needs of our other kids. The ones the world says are normal. The ones that can seem, in many ways, so much more difficult to us. Because, though we live with Autism, we live with our NT kids, too. And they deserve just as much effort.

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9 comments:

loonyhiker said...

Don and I were reminiscing about our lunch together with the three of you. I think Emma is such a well adjusted kid and George was truly wonderful. I think you do an awesome job with both of them because you show them how much you love them and do the best you can. When I look back at my own children, I think about the many mistakes I made but I remind myself that I did the best I could and I did it out of love. No one could ask for anything else. Don't forget to give yourself a pat on the back sometimes.

lonestar said...

Well said! I don't have any NT kids, but when my little guy was born (and was NT for a while) I felt a lot of anxiety about that. I had spent so much time learning about autism and knew a lot more about raising kids with autism than kids without, and wasn't sure I'd know what to do for him sometimes... very true that ALL of our kids deserve the same effort for their individual needs.

Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

Yes - I find that although my younger son does not have the difficulties of autism, he has other issues that are also confounding. And we do reach a "new normal" with autism (funny that you mentioned it - I use that phrase in my book, which will hopefully be ready in a few weeks!)

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