My Moment Of Autism Awareness

This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at AutismWonderland.

Yesterday was the last day of Autism Awareness Month. But for us autism awareness is year round. Over the last five years (since Norrin’s diagnosis) autism has become part of our normal and it’s been easy to take it for granted.

I expect to come home from work and find a therapist working with Norrin.

I expect Norrin to be in school twelve months out of the year.

I expect him to be a small class of six kids and three teachers.

I expect IEP meetings, evaluations and social workers showing up at our door.

I expect him to have difficulty transitioning from one routine to the next.

I expect him to have difficulty  with socialization.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: I’m used to autism by now. I’m used to way it has altered our lives.

But still there are moments when I forget.

Like this weekend when went to a kid friendly amusement park. And right before leaving, we walked into the gift shop. Norrin stood at the door, scanning the store before he saw what he wanted and made a beeline for it.

It’s a chunky yellow school bus. In big bold letters I see: 18 months – 4 years old.  A “baby” toy. (Norrin is seven.)

Norrin’s been eyeing this school bus the last three times we visited the park. And each time I’ve said no.

And I was ready to say again.

I know. I know. I know I shouldn’t care about these things. I know to look beyond time tables and milestones and age appropriate toys.

“He asks for it every time we come here. Who cares about the age,” my husband said. And I gave in.

But I refused to give Norrin the school bus in the car. He would have to earn it. I told him he could have the bus when we got home, after he cleaned his room.

As soon as we walked in, Norrin took off his shoes and socks and went to his room and moments later came back out. “I’m all finished,” he proudly proclaimed. He grabbed me by the hand and I followed him into his room.

All the toys were picked up. His books were put away. I could tell he was trying so hard to stand still. He was smiling, his big brown eyes sparkled. And while his hands were at his sides, his fingers were wriggling. His eager anticipation made me smile.

“How do you feel?” he asked.

“You did a good job. I feel proud.”

When I handed Norrin the school bus, he quickly ripped it out from its box and gathered some of his toy figurines to place inside. I watched him as he held the school bus at eye level, his free hand flapping with excitement.

“How about we play like this,” I said.  Then I showed him how to spread out his figurines all over his room. And then I showed him how to drive the school bus around, picking up the figurines for school. While Norrin was wheeling the bus, we sang “Wheels on the bus.”

I watched as he played with this school bus appropriate for a child years younger than him and he still needed help. We still continue to work on Norrin’s imaginative play skills.

Suddenly, it was like a blue light bulb just went off. And autism had become very real for me. I needed a moment to be aware of it and accept it. I’ve had these moments before. And I suspect I’ll have them again.

I like to think that I am autism aware on a daily basis. But sometimes awareness catches me by surprise.

Does autism catch ever catch you by surprise? What are your moments of autism awareness?

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  1. by One Year of Autism Hopes | To The Max

    On August 7, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    [...] My Moment Of Autism Awareness. Norrin is my only child and autism is all that I know. Sometimes it’s easy for me to take it for granted. And every once in a while, I am reminded. [...]