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OOPS! Part 2 of: When We Forgot Our Son Has Autism

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What could have been a huge disappointment today, was not. My son, once again, showed us just how thirsty he is to exist comfortably in this big and often scary world. This morning we decided to give him a push (bribery) so that our family of 5 could all see the Freedom Tower and 9/11 Memorial together.  It would not have been the same if he and I sat at home in his fears while the rest of the family ventured off.

He has autism. Yes, we forgot. Read about how the day began OOPS! We forgot about Our Son’s Autism.

We forgot about the part of him that is nervous and afraid of the things in this world that don’t make sense to him. Those things trigger his anxiety.

We ordered tickets for all 5 of us forgetting about that part of him because when we think of him, we think of him absent of the things that autism makes hard for him. Our son is not autism. He is our lovable, silly, enthusiastic, kind, friendly, social and brave son.

Today, nearly every step he took was laced with worry or uncertainty. But he used the tools he has learned to help soothe himself. He asked questions and reminded us that it was time to go home. “We still have some more fun things to see,” we would respond with hope.

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He needed his yellow headphones and plenty of reinforcement about things he felt or saw. He let us comfort him. In the moments leading up to entering the Observatory Deck, he grabbed my hand (as seen in picture below). Since his gluten free diet, his aversion to touch has diminished a lot. As his mother, the years he would not let me touch him was so painful, but mostly, I was sad that he was unable to have human touch as a means of soothing his anxieties. That is changing for the better.

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The one spot he felt most comfortable was on the observatory deck with his big brothers.

He loved looking at the Statue of Liberty, the boats and bridges. I could tell he was filled with curiosity as he gazed down at the beautiful sites.

I’d like to think that pushing him to go and face his fears was the right thing to do. I hope it was not a traumatizing experience for him. I hope it helped him realize that he can face his fears and survive!

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Today, walking around and exploring this sacred space that was once The Twin Towers, then a “War Zone,” reminded me that no matter how large or small the problem, we all start from “Ground Zero” to overcome what has fallen or is barren. I can not help but make the connection to my journey in recovery from alcoholism.

It took many years, but as a nation, we rebuilt the destruction of 9/11/01. We rebuilt it out of resiliency, determination and courage.

Today, my boy showed me that despite his fears, he is determined to face them. He is my reminder that it is possible to overcome and thrive!

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