Throughout my ten years of motherhood I have learned that my son was born to us to teach us. He came into our lives for a reason. I think as a parent you wonder what they learn from you, and now all these years later I could write a book on all he had taught us. Much of it I don’t know where it came from.
Luc is on “the spectrum” as they would say. There is no one diagnosis because he does not fit neatly into any one set of characteristics. (Notice I said characteristics: not problems, issues, deficiencies or even symptoms). He has leaned towards several categories, but his unbelievable social-ness kicks him out of being pinpointed into just one. Even with a “diagnosis” he likes to buck the system.
I guess he gets that from me.
The fact of the matter is this: the “diagnosis” doesn’t change the plan. The word “diagnosis” itself implies there is a problem. The implication of a problem then requires a “treatment”. The whole scenario eludes to Autism and it’s spectrum of disorders to be a disease.
I would not call it a disease. I would not call it a way of life. I don’t know what I would call it.
I don’t even care. What is important to us is to support our son. He needs extra support with education. He needs extra support with some of his fine motor skills. He is unable to tie his shoes yet or button buttons yet.
What he doesn’t need support in however…… are the social points of life. In fact, he’s well above and beyond any other child his age in this department. And most adults as well.
The other day we were at swim lessons. I try not to sit near the other moms, they tend to try to override the teacher and instruct their kids from the wall. Last week I told one mother who was screaming at her daughter to sit down and let the teacher teach. (or else bring her and teach her on your own). As the lesson started that same mother sat down next to me.
“Geez.” She said. “There is something off with that boy.”
She pointed to Luc.
Throughout my life so many people have said ridiculously stupid things to me. About me, about my son, about everything. You have two choices, you can get all riled up and fight. Or you can choose to understand that you just can’t cure stupid, and let it go. Luc didn’t hear it, thank god, else I would have then said something more than snarky. Instead I leaned over to her, told her it was my son, and that I was extremely glad he was different.
She sheepishly smiled, looked embarrassed, and I moved my seat. I am not going to waste energy on these kinds of people.
The next day we were walking back into the facility for a Fitness agility class Luc takes. That same mom was in the lobby, and I thought nothing of it. As we were walking to swipe our key tags Luc walked up to her. He and I had never discussed her. Never discussed what she had said. I didn’t know he knew who she was.
“Excuse me” he said to her. “I swim with your little girl. She told me, that you told her that I was weird, and that I was the “R” word. Please don’t say that. It hurts my feelings.” Then he turned and walked away. She and I stood there for an awkward moment. So…. at some point she had a conversation with her daughter, about Luc, and stated that he was weird and that he was retarded. At first I wanted to lay into her, who does that? What kind of mother does that?
Then…. I realized…. Luc had this situation under control. I was stunned. She was too. “What he said.” I said to her and followed him. Like it was nothing, he walked into his class.
It remained with me throughout the hour. I wondered how he was feeling? Between yesterday that little girl must have told him “My mom said you are weird and that you are R*******”. He never said a word, never implied that his feelings were hurt…… was this good or bad?
As we were driving home I asked him what all of that was about. “Oh that lady?” he said, “She’s just a mean person. She hurt my feelings, so I told her so. We are not supposed to use the “R” word either.”
I asked him why he didn’t tell me the little girl had told him that. “I forgot about it.” He said. Wow. Would I have?
I asked him what made him walk up to her. “When I saw her I remembered what the little girl said. She said words that hurt people. She needs to be told she shouldn’t do that. Mean people say words that hurt people. She shouldn’t be mean.”
He continued, “People who say words to hurt you mom….. don’t have a problem with you, they have a problem with their heart. When their heart hurts they try to say something to make your heart hurt.”
“It is like if Sam hits me and hurts my hand. I might hit him back so he hurts too. But this is words.”
I almost stopped the car and pulled over. I told him that I knew many adults who couldn’t take responsibility for what they did to other people. Who shirk responsibility when they do something wrong. I asked him what they thought of that.
“Then they can’t say they did something wrong. That is sad Mom.”
It was quite a drive home. In all these years I had never heard him articulate thoughts this way. He has knowledge and insight most adults don’t. I had posted it on Facebook and we all joked how we’d kick her ass. He handed it better than all of us combined. I got caught up in the who would someone do that. What kind of person says that?
Luc, sees it much more clear. You hurt, you admit it, you say you are sorry. You understand why your heart hurts, and then you wont’ hurt someone else’s.
To say I am proud of him is a gross understatement. I never taught him that. We never talked about this subject. Yet he gets it. He sees the world differently. He sees it as less complicated. As a ten year old “on the spectrum” he sees things a lot more clearly than we adults do. He can’t write it on paper well, but he has a voice that he isn’t afraid to use.
My job is to protect and nurture that voice as he travels through the difficult years of adolescence. The opportunity for that voice to be squashed is great. I don’t even know how to help him preserve it. Likely….. we just keep doing what we are doing. One day at a time, one step at a time, one situation at a time.
So you can take your diagnosis, you can take your classifications, you can take your treatment plans and differentiations. You can take the “R” word, the “A” word and even the phrase of being on “The spectrum”. You can put all of that where the sun don’t shine. Because this kid, like too many kids……… doesn’t have a disease. Doesn’t have an illness. Doesn’t need a treatment. He, as so many others are…… trapped in a system that thinks kids should be one size fits all. These glimmers of light will shine through, as they did this week.
There is much more to these kids than meets the eye. So head’s up. There is a lot to learn from them. Most people need therapy to discover for themselves what Luc already knows.
May we all learn a lesson from Luc this week:
You hurt, you admit it, you say you are sorry. You understand why your heart hurts, and then you wont’ hurt someone else’s.