A couple of times, now that I’m out of the closet with my son’s diagnosis and being more obvious about securing understanding for him, a friend has said to me, “all kids are like that.” I heard this again at the beach yesterday.
The day so far had been perfectly carefree and relaxing. The kids swam in the sound, dug irrigated castles in the sand with a pack of other kids they had never met before but all had bonded quickly over shovels and the task before them. (I felt certain the oldest among them was an Aspie.) I got to read the Times, too much of a rarity. After a couple of hours when I began to pack up our stuff, we were all perfectly satisfied with our day at the beach. I gave DeDe and C.S. money to by a treat and off they went. The children happy, the other children friendly and inclusive, DeDe so helpful — our day had been perfect.
I had the car packed, but before we left, I got a call from a friend that they were at the neighboring beach (for which we did not have a parking permit). I wanted to stroll down for a quick hello. After we arrived, suddenly, this seemingly perfect day, got even better. I was welcomed into a friendly circle of people who freely offered cold drinks, delicious food and the opportunity to ride a jet ski (which DeDe happily accepted). The kids seemed to never tire of the playing in the sun, sand and waves and they obviously warmed immediately to the new pack of people. We ended up staying much longer. Unfortunately longer than I came prepare for. I didn’t have a towel, I didn’t have C.S.’s food. Despite the music and warm, relaxing atmosphere, apparently my over-vigilance began showing. When C.S. pulled suddenly, almost angrily, away from my friend to duck under the umbrella and I stepped in to explain, she stopped me short with what has become a now familiar friendly reminder that, “all kids are like that, not just C.S.”
She’s right. He was hot and tired and getting hungry. Any other kid in the same boat would get touchy. And she is also right that in more ways than not, my son is like every other little boy out there. But not only is he like them, there are also times when my vigilance detects definite sensory issues and autistic traits in children without a diagnosis. More and more I see little boys who are like him.
As hard as it was to leave, after five hours at the beach, it was simply time to go home. We left the beach happy and without incident. And we left the long Labor Day weekend with a pair of perfect summer days under our belt (the day before had been wonderful too). I'm starting off the short week very thankful for the summer with my children and grateful for a few absolutely wonderful friends.
Silver lining: C.S. is not overtly autistic. In more ways than not, he is like any other little boy under the sun. And I can go for days without my or my children’s friends noticing anything autistic about my son—which is also the definite downside to high functioning. He seems normal, sometimes quirky but then, when his neurological differences are more noticeable, that is also why everyone struggles to understand his inappropriateness. I know this silver lining well. And I know it is shining, blindingly beautiful but unfortunately, double-edged.