Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Love Letter to ASD

Dear Autism Spectrum Disorder,

You've been with us for over six months now and I haven't formally welcomed you for I was secretly wishing that you would go away. I guess you fell in love with Milo, my little man, that you decided to stay. Since I cannot force you to leave, I'm welcoming you as a part of the family. I don't hate you, but I don't actually like you either. I don't like you because I don't totally understand you. Yet. Even with all the research and reading I've done, I still cannot fathom your entirety. I don't like you because you're pricey. You're expensive to maintain, but I'm thankful I have my mom and sister to help me with my Milo's occupational therapies and comprehension lessons. If not for your complexity and expenses, I might even fall in love with you for you have made my little man wonderfully special. Without you, Milo would just be another boy. You blessed him with another kind of giftedness. You gave me the opportunity to realize that I have more love, patience, and understanding to give than I realized.

Thank you for the gift of love for numbers. As early as three years old, he was adding large numbers while reading them properly. He can count from 1-10 in seven languages and up to a hundred in four languages. He did all these by himself by watching videos on YouTube. Yes, he knows how to operate gadgets and search the web. I let him without restrictions because I know he is not interested in sex and violence.

Thank you for the gift of reading. If I remember correctly, he was able to read short words even before he turned three. I was amazed and did not realize that it was already you. I only thought that he was a smart kid. He is a smart kid. Without a doubt. However, his therapists are working on his comprehension skills. While he can read like an 8-year old, they worry that he is unable to grasp the context of what he is reading. I'm not worried at all because I am confident that he understands. You only have to be patient with him.

Thank you for the gift of photographic memory. He remembers when I scold him. Even the shirt I was wearing. He remembers all the birthdays of the members of our household. From his lolo to our kasambahays. He remembers who owns what shirt or shoes. He remembers passwords. He remembers that good and bad that you have done to him. If you want something remembered, you should tell it to him and he would keep in in his memory. I just wish that we he grows up, he'll remember all the love and happiness we shared with him.

Thank you for the gift of words. I understand that other persons in the spectrum are non-verbal and they are unable to say "Mommy". I have now more appreciation of the words he says because I know someone, somewhere, is longing to hear "Mommy".

Thank you for the gift of touch. Some persons in the spectrum are sensitive to touch, but not Milo. You can hug him. Kiss him. Cuddle him. Tickle him. There are moments when he doesn't want to be touched, but it's very minimal. Every moment spent with my little man is truly magical.

Thank you for the gift of social interaction. Surprisingly, Milo has learned to socialize and make friends. His classmates adore him because he is effortlessly funny.

Thank you for the gift of emotion. While he truly does not understand all of it, he knows happiness and sadness. He knows laughter and tears. Someday, I know, he will fall in love. 

For the record, I am not romanticizing my relationship with you. Since it looks like we'll be spending a lifetime together, we might as well be partners. However, it doesn't mean that you will define my son.  He is Milo. The boy who I love with all my being and NOT the boy with autism. He is Milo and you are autism. Let him be my little man and I'll let you to be you.

Since you are now a part of our family, you go by our rules. First, we will not use autism as an excuse to get special treatment. Next, we will be cooperative at all times. I know you need your therapies to keep you at bay and I will see to it that you get these. In return, you promise to behave at all times. Lastly, we will not let others put us down. I will not allow people bullying us or pitying us. I will stand up for you and for my son.

People should understand that you are not a disease. You are a condition that needs extra love, a lot of patience and understanding, and tons of acceptance. I have all of that to give you because I love my son to infinity and beyond.

Milo is just four. You have a lifetime of togetherness. You are a challenge and not a roadblock. You are both a blessing and a curse. But I am confident that Milo will bring out the best in the both of you. Again, welcome to our family and let's make the most out of this journey.

With extra love, a lot of patience and understanding, and tons of acceptance,

Milo's Mommy

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