Raising a child on the spectrum is not easy. It comes with higher demands of care and time than other children. Believe me, I know! I have four children ranging in ages from eight to 17. My youngest daughter has PDD, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a moderate form of Autism.
She is higher functioning and very smart. She also lacks impulse control, and with that comes language that has no filters or boundaries. My daughter has taught me an incredible amount of patience and also to laugh at the silly things that happen. Laughing and finding humor in some of the awkward comments helps balance life when things get too stressful and unmanageable at times. I have spoken with other families who have children on the spectrum and we all have agreed you just have to laugh sometimes.
My daughter was taking her nightly bath one evening. Of course, I’m always right next to her in the bathroom. She asked me why I never take a bath with her. I explained to her that I am a grownup and much too big to get into the bathtub with her. I told her that if I got into the bathtub, there would be no room for her.
She had a very serious face and replied very calmly, “Oh yeah. I keep forgetting you are the size of an elephant.” I laughed. She was not trying to be mean. She was not trying to make me feel bad about myself. She was just being her. I was thankful for the laugh, although I was remorseful for the Kit Kat bar I had eaten earlier that day.
My daughter is so smart; sometimes she asks questions I just don’t know how to answer. Thank goodness for Google, as every question ends up with me having to search the internet. My other children used to ask questions of curiosity like what my favorite color was growing up, or what television shows I used to watch when I was little, or the names of my best friends from grade school. My daughter with autism does not have an interest in any of those topics.
She wants to know what scientific family a slug is in. I had no idea—I had to look it up. She wanted to know how many species are in the gastropod family. I had no idea—I had to look it up. Then she wanted to see pictures of each species. I told her I don’t have that information either and that I would have to look it up. She told me very calmly, and in all seriousness, “I used to think you were smart.” Again, I laughed. I have been outsmarted by an eight-year-old!
Playdates at the park are no different. I always enjoy seeing how she reacts and how she perceives others. Each time we go is different, even when nothing around us is different. We have our good days and bad days like everyone else. I was talking to another parent and watching the kids play. One of the kids came up to me to tell me that my daughter was eating snails.
I went over to investigate what was going on. She saw me and right away told me, “I am not eating the snails. I was just tasting them. I have spit all of them out.” I laughed and told the other parent we needed to go before she fills up too much before dinner.
If laughter is truly good for the soul, I get a good daily dose from my daughter each day. I am thankful for her witty comments and the humor she brings into our life. Life is not easy having a child on the spectrum, but having a positive attitude and learning to laugh at the little things certainly makes it better. Wishing joy and laughter to all the autism parents out there!
This article was originally written by Carol Tatom.