The Fine Line for Autism Parents
This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at AutismWonderland.
When Norrin was younger, before he was diagnosed with autism, friends and family used to make fun of the way I hovered around Norrin. “Bubble Boy,” my one friend liked to call him. And family would urge me to sit down, to relax and let Norrin be. They all said, he was just being a boy – but he was a busy kid – constantly running around, getting hurt or into something he shouldn’t.
After Norrin’s diagnosis, I hovered even more especially when we were out visiting or in crowded places. When out walking – I never let go of his hand. I have this fear of letting go.
But Norrin is seven now and becoming more independent every day. I need to let go and let him experience things without me hovering behind him.
A few Sundays ago my husband, Joseph, decided to register Norrin for his first Road Runners Kids race. I was okay with Norrin running up until we got there and I saw the crowd. Street blocks filled with “typical” kids and their parents, music blasting and bitter cold winds. Naturally my mother hover instincts kicked in. As we waited I held his hand and put an arm over his shoulder. And every few minutes I kept asking if he was tired or wanted to go home. All he had to do was say the word and we were out of there. But Joseph was determined for Norrin run the race.
I wanted to keep Norrin “safe,” Joseph wanted Norrin to take a chance. This is the line we walk along constantly.
Like when we went to Sesame Place and Joseph insisted Norrin ride on the roller coaster. I thought it would be ‘too scary’ for him. Norrin loved it!
Or that time we went to the The Intrepid and Joseph took Norrin on the Gforce Encounter Simulator ride. We spent a good fifteen minutes
arguing discussing whether or not it was appropriate for Norrin. The thing was enclosed and went upside down. When Joseph and Norrin got on, I had to walk away. When the ride was over, Norrin stepped off with a huge grin wanting to “go again.”
And that Sunday, Norrrin ran his race and had a great time.
Thinking of all this reminds me of that Parenthood episode – the one where Max wants to run for student body president. Christina encourages Max to go for it while Adam thinks its a bad idea. Adam is scared because he assumes Max will lose. And when Max won, I was on my sofa sobbing like a baby.
All parents want to protect their children but when your child has special needs – your life sometimes revolves around wanting and needing to protect them. There’s a fine line between knowing when to hold on and when to let go. And that line becomes easily blurred. I’m grateful I have a partner like Joseph who helps me to see the line clearly.
Do you having trouble knowing when to hold on or when to let go?
Please tell me, it’s not just me.