This Is My Son. This Is Autism.

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

With my husband, Joseph, and son, Norrin. Celebrating Joseph’s birthday at one of our favorite restaurants.

“I don’t understand autism,” a friend said while we were eating dinner. We’ve know each other since grade school and hadn’t seen each other in a while. We were catching up and asking about our families. Though we are close enough to ask each other almost anything, I could tell she was uncomfortable admitting she didn’t know much about autism. I couldn’t blame her. I didn’t understand autism either, until I had to.

Autism isn’t something that can be easily summed up in a sentence. Or a blog post for that matter. And I was at a loss at how to explain it to her so that she could understand. I told her about Norrin and the progress he’s made. We talked a little about the future. And then like long time friends who hadn’t seen each other for a while, we immediately moved on to another subject.

But I’ve been thinking about our conversation since. I thought about the This is Autism Flash Blog in response to Suzanne Wright’s Call For Action. Wright believes that parents raising kids with autism are “not living,” they merely exist. And that we live in despair.

I know last week, I wrote about how autism wasn’t a crisis and I stated my reasons why I still (sort of) support Autism Speaks. I still stand by that. But I can’t and don’t believe that we live a life in despair. And that’s not ever the impression I want to give anyone. Yes we have our challenges, but we live our lives.

This is Norrin. He’ll be eight in January.

Norrin’s a happy kid with a quick wit. And like most little boys, he thinks fart jokes are hilarious. He loves building with Lego bricks, drawing, watching cartoons and eating cheese burgers. He loves playing video games and running around the playground.

Norrin especially likes going out to eat at restaurants and likes to place his own orders when we’re out. He knows exactly what he wants and always says please and thank you.

Norrin attends a special education school for kids with autism. He likes his teachers and has friends in his class. And when we sit down and do homework, I have flashbacks of my childhood sitting at the kitchen table with my mother. Academically, me and Norrin are alike in many ways. We both love to read and it comes easily, but math is difficult.

Norrin has a few kids he considers friends, kids he’ll ask for because he enjoys their company. But if there are too many kids in a room, he’ll prefer to play alone.

Norrin isn’t lost or trapped within his own world. He lives in our world. And he knows he’s a part of it. Norrin loves us and he knows that he is loved. And it’s the love that keeps us going.

As I’m typing this, I’m reminded of a line in one of my favorite movies, Auntie Mame (if you haven’t seen it, SEE IT! It’s fabulous!) when Mame says: Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!

I don’t want to starve to death (especially since I’m a gal who likes to eat). And I don’t want Norrin to starve either. I want him to experience life as much as he can and to enjoy it. That’s what we’re teaching him.

This is autism for our family.

What does autism look like for yours?

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