Today I’m sharing a guest post by my mother. I asked if she would write a piece about what it’s like having an autistic grandson, and how it has been adjusting to that truth. I was inspired to ask her to share her experience after reading this article about grandparents adjusting to their special needs grandchildren. My mother was – is still – an amazing mother to me, and is now being a wonderful grandmother to all her grandchildren too.
Here are her own words:
I’m a special grandmother – that’s the way my autistic grandson makes me feel. He’s loving and very bright and because I’ve been a teacher of new entrants I have a lot of tolerance for his repetitive same questions and his ‘happy dance’ behaviour. I like the way he responds to things with such ready humour. Even before he started speaking he understood jokes. To start with, when he was two years old, I had trouble coming to terms with the potential of his being autistic but now I understand and appreciate him as a very interesting individual. His mother has done intensive research into autism and has worked hard with him to help him achieve to the best of his ability – and I can see, he is capable of a great deal more. I have met autistic adults in the happy niche of academia. He could well slot into a research department or into the world of holographic design or whatever movie making/computer games develop into for our future entertainment.
What made me and him laugh the other day was when I brought out an A.A. Milne Christopher Robin book for him to read. ‘It’s called ‘The World of Pooh,’ I told him.
‘The world of pooh?’ he queried in astonishment and he looked at the book. ‘It’s got a lot of pages.’ He laughed and laughed and went a bit OTT falling on the floor with his laughing but that was okay. I couldn’t stop laughing either.
I know he has melt-downs and I know they’re hard for his parents to deal with but they do. I have huge respect for them having managed him before they could reason with him and now too when he finds it difficult to accept reason versus his anxiety for something to be ‘right.’ I recall as a child being terribly upset when someone told me the car brake was ‘on’ when I believed it should be ‘off’ or the car would roll down the hill. If the engine was off, you see, the car wouldn’t move forward so why shouldn’t the brake meet the same criteria? Yes, I was an anxious child so I have some empathy for my grandson dealing with this messy world. Things just don’t go along as you expect unless you can make some sort of order in your own little cave where the outside doesn’t intrude. It takes a lot of growing up to discover the outside actually cannot intrude into the order you have in your own mind. That’s where it matters and maybe our special boy will find that out too one day.
I believe his autism isn’t a broken mind. It’s just a different way of fitting the world around oneself. Differences are necessary for human survival. Who knows? Just as people learn to read in a variety of ways, so people learn to view their universe too. A different way of looking at the world and understanding it to the degree that you can portray it to others around you might lead to a new way of relating to our planet that hasn’t been considered previously. It might be the salvation of our species or the platform that springboards us all the way to the stars. The potential is unlimited – that’s the way I see it and that is how it can be for my grandson.