My boy. I love him so much. When he’s happy, I’m ecstatic. When he’s ecstatic, I’m on cloud nine. And what makes him so very happy you may ask? That’s easy! Gravel, sand, grass, dirt, pebbles. Anything he can dig his hands into, roll around in his palms, and occassionally place on his head (that’s a newbie). A sensory paradise. Today, after two days of spiking a fever of 103 he woke up with the widest grin on his face. He was happy. He ate not one, but two bowls of choco balls, had a big glass of o.j. and as soon as I mentioned “swings” and “playground” he was giddy with excitement. He knows, I can feel it, that when he goes to the park with me I will let him be. I will let him get as dirty as he wants, I will let him howl/shriek, and I will let him pull at the grass and stuff pebbles down his shirt if that’s what makes him happy. Because although he’s nonverbal, when he’s happy he has the best way of showing it: He smiles. And I will do anything for that smile of his.
High-functioning, low-functioning, medium-functioning. Severely autistic, mildly autistic. Verbal, non-verbal. Hand-flapping, wiggling mess. All I know is that P is gulping air still and producing lots of gas, burping, vomiting, and now he’s got a fever too. And not the type of fever that mellows him but the kind that makes him chant like a Native-American and shriek. Today he woke up and wouldn’t let me go, kept ‘asking’ for cuddles and would bite his hand if I didn’t succumb. Hello mommy! That’s the cue to stay the fuck home. But no, I went to work only to leave frantically and in tears just a couple of hours later. Picked him up from the school in total and utter chaos.
Just when I’m about to crack a smile and think that life ain’t so bad Autism, the big A, rears its ugly head at us one more time as if to say: “Hey guys, don’t forget: I’m still here you fucking morons”
As cheesy it may sound to some, and a bit of a cliche, I ran the 5k at this year’s Athens Half Marathon for my ASD son. I sure did! And I’m going to run in every single other marathon, or race, in Athens from now on, again for my son. That feeling of accomplishment, that euphoria, that thrill and just plain-old excitement and gratification that you get from people cheering you on, it’s incomparable. And then when I finally got back home I looked at my son and I said “Panayiotaki I ran for you today” and he looked at me and smiled and hugged me those tight hugs that he hugs as if he knew what the heck I was talking about. I just felt like a good mom, for once. Because when you’re a parent of a special-needs child sometimes no matter what cool toy you buy or how much money you spend on their clothes and how much attention you give them, sometimes it’s a special type of feeling that makes you feel like a good parent. And that special type of feeling is what I got from running in the “I Run For Autism” group.