20 Aug 2013

This is My Child

This is my millennium baby. He didn't develop along quite the same path as his older sister and most of his peers and was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old.

Ryan aged 2
As a toddler, he didn't speak but he communicated in other ways. Over time and with lots of help and teaching optimised to his way of learning he learnt to communicate more effectively. By the time he was 4, he was speaking in 2 to 3-word sentences.

Over the years, just about every single time we have been out and about together, people have taken a second look at him. Often it's because of what he's wearing. Ryan loves videos and stories. Most of his language comes from chopping up film scripts and slotting the pieces into place appropriately. He makes films of his own, He likes to dress up as his favourite characters. He's eccentric and catches eyes as he strides along with a red blanket wrapped around his shoulders.

Ryan aged 6, Robin Hood/Cowboy mash-up

Ryan aged 12 as Curtis the evil raccoon-sheep from Minecraft

People look because Ryan can be loud. He comes out with unexpected expressions. Sometimes he's angry and lashes out though it's very rarely physical and he holds back from hurting as best he can. Often he talks to himself and he moves in non-typical ways. He often livens up walking with a perfectly executed pirouette.

Most people look instinctively then go on about their day when they see that it's just a boy out living his life as he's entitled to. Rarely do people progress from simple curiosity to outright rudeness and the stares of strangers don't affect me. Over the years I've developed a force field that surrounds me and my boy and the people who try to catch my eye so they can register their disapproval are rarely successful. Some still try but I notice it much less than when he was younger. His disability is more apparent as he grows. He's not like typically developing teenagers.

Most people are lovely- they smile at Ryan, they show us kindness when we need it. Ryan abounds with kindness and concern for others. He deserves to have his place in the world, to be accepted and to have the few accommodations he requires to participate. He's my child and I wouldn't want him to be anything other than the creative, funny, loving and perfectly autistic boy he is.

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