This post was originally published by Laura Shumaker at http://blog.sfgate.com/lshumaker/2013/03/17/children-with-autism-become-adults-with-autism-it-doesnt-get-any-better-than-that/, and is reprinted here with permission from the author.
I ran into an autism mom friend the other day. Her name is Jenny, and she had that if-you-ask-me-how-I’m doing-I’ll-start-crying look on her face.
What’s going on, I asked, and her blue eyes spilled over.
“Joe turned 11 last week,” she said, “and for the first time I started freaking out about the future.”
I nodded sympathetically, remembering 11. Eleven was hard.
“And then my husband and I went to the Round-Up Saloon, you know, that fun bar downtown, with some friends. It was Karoke night, and this guy, I guess he was in his 20′s, started singing. He was rocking and dancing around awkwardly–it was so obvious that he had autism or something like it, and I just lost it.”
I handed her a tissue.
“I mean, I know Joe can’t be a little boy forever, but it just got to me. Will he be like that guy someday?”
Was it this past Saturday night, I asked her? Was the guy pretending to be a rockstar, handing out t-shirts and CD’s and did he hang up a poster of himself? She nodded, biting her lip anxiously.
“That was Matthew,” I laughed, and Jenny looked mortified. I’m sure she is probably still kicking herself, even though I told her it was OK, really.
I too, had cringed at the thought of grown up Matthew. I couldn’t imagine the middle and high school years. He already had impulse control problems (that’s a nice way of saying he was aggressive and prone to meltdowns) what would happen when the hormones kicked in? Would he ever have friends?Would he graduate with his class? What if he didn’t, then what would he do? On and on, so many sleepless nights.
I wish I could have told my 41 year old self that I would not only survive it all, but that I’d enjoy grown up Matthew so much, and that one Saturday night, I’d be sitting in a bar, watching him sing, and his brothers would be recording his performance on an iPhone. I wish I could have told my 41 year old self that only a few people snickered– most cheered and clapped, and that I couldn’t stop crying because my son looked so happy.
And that I handed out his t-shirts and CD’s, thinking “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
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