One of the most enraging phrases a parent of or person with autism can hear is ‘they don’t look autistic’ there is no look. So no, they don’t. I’ve not had the pleasure of correcting anyone on that; and hopefully I won’t ever have to.
There is, however, a difference between ‘looking’ and ‘seeing’ many people may ‘look’ at Sam and see a little boy who flaps his hands & doesn’t communicate. They may see me, his 5ft 2inch mum carrying a child who is too old to be carried. That’s ok though. People see what they see.
We are currently under a handful of professional for various reasons and each time we see someone new, they fill out their forms and they ask me about Sam. My answers are always in the vein of: he’s happy, he’s funny, cheeky, very energetic 🤪 The list goes on.
His ‘behaviours’ I don’t list; until they ask me about them. Sam is not his behaviours. They are challenging and numerous for sure, but they are not him. He is amazing. I see him. I see how hard he tries to make words, and keeps repeating himself until I understand what he says. I see him when he’s trying to put his wellies on the right feet. I see his face when he’s showing me the pictures on the school door of him sitting with his classmates at the nativity and I see the frustration he has when he doesn’t do something the way he wanted to do it. I see it. I see him.
And the people who see us regularly and the people who look after him see him too. This is the best I could have wished. Them seeing him for the cheeky little monkey he is. Not because of his autism but because of his personality. And that is down to Sam himself. Because of who he is. He’s not doing anything he wouldn’t normally do. He’s being himself.
I see his teachers pride when he excels at something new. When he exceeds a target. I think if I were to ask them, they would also describe him before describing his behaviours. I got the most amazing gift in the form of a message from his nursery teacher. I’ve copied and pasted to respect her privacy but she said to me:
Whilst we are talking, I want you to know how exceptionally proud I am of Sam and it’s honestly amazing to be his teacher. He made me cry with his progress this week several times. He has changed me for the better as a teacher and he’s stolen a bit of my heart forever! thank you for sharing him with us, he is an exceptional child Jodie and he will achieve great things I have no doubt x
That would have made me cry but I was reading it stood behind a bar at work when I probably shouldn’t have been 🙄
We are really lucky in a way that all of the people in Sams life go out of their way to make it standard for Sam to be included. It isn’t always the case with our children which I can’t change. But I see these people who go beyond my hopes for what they will give of themselves for Sam, and I am grateful. I see my friend who goes out of her way to make Sam comfortable at her daughters party, who made him a special sensory party bag to take home.
So I just really want to say to anyone who ‘sees’ somebody a bit different, ‘look’ a bit deeper. You might be glad you did.