So I’m a little sad. And I’m a little worried.
Most of the time I feel pretty good about Jack. I know he needs extra help and I know he has a tougher road ahead of him than many. But I feel good about him.
He’s smart. He’s loveable. He has charisma.
He seems happy most of the time.
A lot of the time I feel that he just needs to grow up a little. He needs to learn to be comfortable and confident in himself. If he can do this, I think, he’ll be fine. He’ll be normal. Or as normal as anyone else.
I know he’s autistic. I know he will be autistic for the rest of his life. But I feel that he can learn to compensate for his autism. And he’ll be fine. He’ll be happy.
And then there are times when I look at him and I wonder if I’m in denial. I wonder if his autism is more profound than I am aware. I wonder if he is going to struggle in life more than I am willing to admit.
I wonder if this mostly invisible disability he has is invisible to me too.
I’ve been trying to find him private therapists lately and it’s tough. They won’t call me back or they don’t take my insurance, or I don’t know if they’re any good or not. I’m looking for speech and OT and maybe some social skills groups, because I am aware that he needs help in these areas. But what else does he need?
If I knew, really knew, what he needs, I would get it for him. But I don’t know. Don’t worry, I’m not in freak-out mode like in the past. I just wish I knew how best to help him.
Because I want him to be happy.
I watch Jack at a playgroup. There are five kids, ages almost-two to six-and-a-half, playing together on a swingset. Jack has climbed a tree across the yard and is watching them.
He seems happy, but I wonder if he is content to sit and watch, or if he wants to play, but doesn’t know how.
I want to live inside his head for a day, or for a week. I want to know what he thinks, how he thinks, and what he wants. I want to know what I should help him do. Should I help him be comfortable by himself? Or should I walk him over to the group and help him join in?
I end up just watching him.
I watch Jack at karate. It’s not going very well. At first he is happy and running around, but when his instructor tries to get him to listen, Jack falls to the ground, limp. He shakes his head and looks away. I have to intervene to get him to listen enough to participate.
Halfway through class, Jack starts to sob. The instructor tries to talk to him but obviously can’t understand what Jack is trying to tell him. I beckon for him to come off the mat and he does, telling me that his tummy hurts. Does he want to do karate today? He says no. Does he want to come back next week and try? He says yes.
He tells me he wants enough stripes on his belt to graduate. But this is only his fourth class.
Once he has settled down, he seems to forget that his tummy hurts, if it ever did. He is happy again. I wonder if he will improve, or if maybe he’s not ready yet for karate.
We’ll bring him for the rest of his free trial month, but if things continue like this, it is unlikely that we will sign him up for the six-month contract.
I want all my kids to be happy. I think Jack is going to have the hardest road to get there.
Sometimes it makes me sad. And sometimes it makes me worried.