Why am I autistic?

Why am I autistic?  It’s a loaded question.  It is not one I thought I would hear from Sawyer yet.  Actually,  I still haven’t heard it directly.  It was directed to my wife, Kellie.  She did respond.  In her soft, direct, and in a nurturing way, she was able to share that he was born this way.  His brain just works different.

When Kellie asked if he was OK being autistic? Sawyer said he was and that was fine.  Case closed.  A give and take conversation in a moment.  If there was a hurdle, Kellie jumped over it with him.  She didn’t knock it over nor did she run around it.

Why am I autistic?

I on the other hand am struggling with my own response.  What if he asks me next? It is like in the movie, Good Will Hunting, when Robin Williams plays the role of a therapist.  As Williams explains to Matt Damon’s character who is a troubled foster child that he doesn’t know the life that he has lived by reading the book, Oliver Twist.

In my case, I can’t answer the question of what Sawyer is asking based on what I have read or been told.

Why am I autistic?

I don’t know the answer.  I don’t search for answers.  I don’t wish for answers.  This is who I am.  However, whatever I am may need to rethink my take.  Sawyer being autistic is who he is.  He is entitled to understanding the why, if that is important to him.

Why am I autistic?

I only see Sawyer.  He is autistic.  His brain works differently than others.  He can see things I can’t see.  He learns in ways that I don’t understand.  He hugs me by leaning into me.  He loves routine.  He loves our family.  He is now showing me how he loves himself.

Why am I autistic?

Sawyer, we will find out together.

Front of the line

Years ago we went to Disney. We watched Sawyer cry, scream, and shake at various points of our vacation. The magic of Disney may have been captured in pictures but there was nothing magical about our trip. It was a week long slugfest as the boy who loved Mickey couldn’t find joy in his park.

It was just a few months later that Sawyer would receive his diagnosis of Autism. Our world of understanding his needs had just begun.

Some of the biggest challenges for Sawyer is large crowds, noise, waiting in line, taking turns, and being allowed to do something himself. As you can imagine, a theme park if not planned accordingly can set him up for failure.

Thankfully, we are aware that most theme parks offer supports for those with special needs. So when we traveled to Story Land up north in New Hampshire, we were set up for the best experience possible.

Sawyer was excited. His vertical leap was at its all time peak from the moment we entered the park. And to enhance his experience, we were given a pass that gave him access to get on rides at the exit line rather than the entrance.

This was a game changer for Sawyer and our family. It’s almost like a golden ticket for a theme park.

So on a nice day, we had no lines, and the kids could go on rides with Sawyer as my wife Kellie and I watched.

All was great. All but our final ride before departing the park. As we had our pass, one of the workers looked at it and said, “well, the line is long enough so I guess this time, you can use it here.”

That was her making it her choice. Sawyer doesn’t have a choice. Kellie in a very direct tone informed her that the pass doesn’t work that way and our kids would be getting on this ride like it was explained to us. The worker didn’t say anything else.

The kids got on the ride. They had fun. We went home.

Here is the heartache of this. We had a great day but one part of our day reminded us of what is our reality. People see Sawyer and don’t see Autism. They don’t see it because he looks like any other kid. However, this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have special needs.

Nobody made that choice for him. We never thought we would need a pass to be in front of a line.

We had it because he needs it. It’s a support. We just continue to fight for the understanding of the support he needs.