I’m sharing another emotional post with you today.
My family has been going through something over the past few months that I haven’t really shared much about–not here and not with those I know in real life either, except for a select few. I love being real and authentic, but it means I put myself out there for judgment and criticism, and this is still too raw.
But now the time has come. April is Autism Awareness month and I can’t let it go any further. Over the past few months, we’ve been going through the long and drawn out process of diagnosis for my older son, who will be 6 this summer.
He has been diagnosed with high-functioning Autism.
There are many symptoms and issues that I could get into, and I might one day. But for today, I want to share about something that, for me as a mother, is one of the more painful aspects of this. There are many things that are inconvenient, and many things that make my heart hurt for my son.
But there is one thing that hurts my heart the most personally as a mother right now, and it was completely unexpected. I didn’t know it was a part of high-functioning autism, until it came to our door and I started researching more and more about this diagnosis.
My son has never (NEVER) come to me and said “I love you.” When we say it to him, sometimes he will say it back. But we can tell it makes him very uncomfortable. It seems almost painful for him to say those words. Usually he just doesn’t respond.
I was reading a friend’s post about her 3 year old coming to her this morning and crawling up in her lap to snuggle, with a sweet “I love you, mommy.” And my heart broke. And I cried. How I long for those sweet words from my son.
He’s not a fan of most physical touch, and that includes hugging. He will, every once in a while, cuddle on his terms (i.e. initiated by him). He’ll come and crawl up into my lap and want to snuggle down for a book or to watch something on TV, and I treasure those moments all the more because they are so rare.
But, just because he can’t say the words easily, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel it.
Sometimes Love Just Looks Different
There is one thing he always does.
We do this pattern activity where the boys get mini packs of skittles (a halloween clearance purchase). One day back in August/September, while we were doing that activity, we started talking about everyone’s favorite colors of skittle. Mine is red.
It was just mentioned one quick time, in passing.
Since then, every time Caeden gets skittles, he saves me a red one. Every single time.
In my research about high-functioning autism, I came across many articles that said kids with HFA can’t feel love or empathy and I get so frustrated at that. Yes, there are times when I wish it looked more “normal.” But, it’s wrong to say there is no love.
The love is there. It just looks different.
For us, it doesn’t look like “I love you.” And it doesn’t always look like hugs and kisses. For us, it looks like a red skittle.