I received mixed reactions when I shared news of Hunter’s diagnosis, ASD/PDD. There were those who scowled and said, “OMG, how are you going to manage?” Other would say, “Wow, he could be savant!” Over the past 5 years, friends have come and gone. And I've learned…not everyone, no matter how positive you are or how hard you try to education them about autism, will ever really understand or even allow themselves to spend a moment in your shoes. It’s just not something they want to think about and that’s okay. They may never know how rich life can be, seeing the world through autistics eyes or know the depth of love. It’s hard…I know, whether family, friend or stranger; lack of support hurts. As parents of and individual autistics we become more determined to surround ourselves with positive people who want to learn, understand and accept.
Hunt and I are very blessed to have several very good friends who are receptive to learning about autism. They openly admitt that they have no knowledge of autism and are always asking questions. They take time to talk to Hunter, even if he does not respond. Together we find ways for Hunter to know that those around him love him and accepted him just the way he is. This is why he’s so comfortable in his own skin. It took some time for everything to sink in, but Hunter got the message. He started responding to friends, who he considers family and has stated as much, by giving hugs and inviting them to his room to play. He even looks forward to sharing his contagious since of humor. What a marvelous break through.
I’ve been told it’s really very simple. Our friends see the unconditional love my son and I have for each other. After all, he puts up with a lot from me too. They know how patient I am with him and how I’m always looking for opportunities to teach him new things. Seeing all of this makes it easier for them to join in. There are some who see true happiness and really want to be a part.
It still makes me cry when I hear, “We don’t see you and Hunter being different from any other parent and child.” “You do and say the same things to him as we do and say to our own kids.” “Hunter’s so well mannered; you should share your parenting tips.” And it goes on. Acceptance and understand truly begin in home. Sure, there’s going to be a few folks that only see what they want to see, so let them. I find the general standard is when people see you totally get your kid(s) and accept whatever’s going on with them, they will accept it too.