One of the most welcome discoveries I made this summer was that most adults are really understanding and kind when they know that Roman has autism. Complete strangers brought their patience, curiosity, and creativity to the forefront with Roman time after time, from showing him magic tricks to teaching pottery skills to baking cookies to surfing. Group hug!
But beware of the dark side, because when people don't recognize that they are basking in the strange glow of the spectrum, they can be assholes. To Roman. And this shocks me because he is, well, a child and all.
In fact, we've had a couple of occasions in front of our very own house these past few weeks that have made my blood boil. Honkers. <--a pox be on you!
Romi's school bus anxiety is clinical. And even though he's the very first child picked up on our route, some people ("ladies" driving SUVs and men in work trucks) just can't help themselves. THEY! CANNOT! WAIT! They disapprove of his pace, and they're not afraid to lay on the horn.
Because sometimes autism looks like bad behavior. Or mental illness. Or bad parenting. And it might be all that and more, but truth be told, raising a kid with autism doesn't scare me near as much as raising a kid who'll become that adult. The self-important one that can't wait for ONE MINUTE for a *child* to get on the damn school bus. #endrant
Sadly, I am not dealing with this well at all. It's embarrassing to admit, because I have had so many years of passable success and public practice in shrugging off Roman's odd stims and tics, ignoring his bad words, laughing off his scripted speech, and generally avoiding potentially hairy eyeballs at the grocery store.
But honking bruises my son's ears and throws him into immediate sensory overload. And this makes me mad. Mama bear mad.
So if you honk at my child - especially before I've had my morning coffee - I WILL yell at you, confirming your suspicion that bad parenting is what's at play here. And maybe I deserve that - in that one moment. (And an anger management class. Probably not a bad idea.)
But the rest of the time? I'm watching Roman's diet, reading about autism, obsessing about his progress with my husband, considering his schedule, planning his wardrobe and his activities, watching Mighty Machines on Netflix with him, meeting with specialists, hiring in-home support staff, collaborating on his school I.E.P., running interference with his siblings, playing with him and his trucks on the floor, "running" cross country with him so he can be on a school team, coaching him on polite niceties (hello, please, and thank you!), ferrying him to O.T. on Wednesdays and therapeutic horseback riding on Saturdays, brushing his teeth, washing his hair in the shower, wiping his butt on occasion, reading to him at night, and hugging the stuffing out of him every chance I get.
Painstakingly filing away his socially inappropriate edges, little by little, year by year. All to help him blend in better and learn to cope with the people aren't afraid to lay on the proverbial horn. You win this one, Irony. Beep beep!