I thought I'd write a response to the questions. Not the questions I get asked, but the questions I don't get asked. The ones you ask silently(and some of you, yes, out loud!!!) in your head, when you see me feeding my children gingerbread men for lunch, when you see my 3 yr old in nappies or my 5 yr old being rushed to the bathroom after an accident, when you see my self-pitying/self-loathing depression manifest, when you hear me say "I can't cope" whilst taking on more and more. The questions about autism, and the future, and our family, and our choices. The ones about our seeming lack of options, and our seeming ignorance of this.
First, to those of you who ask these questions in your head, but NOT out loud, thank you for your discretion. I appreciate your attempt to keep your doubts about me to yourself. It must be hard sometimes to sit silently by when you see me seemingly ruin my life, especially when you care, so yes, I applaud you.
To those of you less discrete, who out of a genuine concern for me have questioned me loudly and at length; how dare you. By questioning me out loud you have revealed what you truly think about me, my mothering, and my children. At least I know now who amonst you think my children are mentally retarded, and burdens upon me and upon society. And least I know who amonst you think I'm not coping because I say so, and who thinks that I can't handle this.
So, because I don't really want to answer these questions again at such length, with such heartache, I am writing it down for you.
Myth One: I'm not coping.
Truth: I am coping. Even when I say I'm not coping, I am. Even on my hardest days, even when I give in to the dark cloud inside my head and put my children in front of DVD after DVD while I lie sleeplessly in my bedroom and stare at the ceiling contemplating the worst, I am still coping. I may not be doing my best that day, as a mother, wife, citizen of earth, but I am coping. My children are clothed and fed, they are warm and dry, they are clean and they know that they are loved. That is coping. Not Coping is something you see on the news, and it's very very tragic. When I tell you that I am not coping, whether in person, on the phone, in a group or on facebook, it is because I need you to know that I am struggling to find joy in my life, that I am not cleansing, toning and moisturising twice a day and I'm not really eating right, and I want you to help me. You can help me by turning up to watch the kids so that I can actually sleep without worrying about them, or by meeting up with me for coffee so that I have to get dressed and leave the house. You can help by texting to let me know you're thinking of me, or calling on the phone once the kids are in bed to see how my day was. This will all help me to realise that I am actually doing fine.
Myth Two: Because of my depression, I should not embark on anything brave or challenging.
Truth: I have a future, and a hope, and I am not fated to repeat the past. The past has no hold over me. Do you believe this for me? I hope you do, because sometimes I forget, and this may make you doubt my capabilities even more, but I know in my heart that I am a child of the God of the Impossible. And I believe in my heart that my future is not written, that it is a journey, and that even if I make a mistake or choose wrongly, my God will not desert me, and He will still have the power to transform my situation. I can't make you believe in God and I'm not going to try, but if you do believe in Him, I wish you would believe He can work as powerfully in me as He has for others.
Myth Three: My children are defined by their deficiencies.
Truth: Both my children show characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder, and this can make some things more difficult for us, but both my children are incredibly intelligent, funny, beautiful and fully capable of amazing lives. Their future, like mine, has not been prescribed already. Their destinies are unknown, but they are not retarded or deficient, and I am so excited to see them grow and develop. They may be developing at a different rate than your children or what your books say, but they ARE growing and developing and blossoming, and so full of potential that it takes my breath away. They are not a burden, or a scourge or a mistake. And yes, I do genuinely believe that there should be more children in the world like them. There is no excuse in today's world for thinking that autistic children are disabled, retarded or idiots. These terms belong to the past, and they have no place in our vocabulary.
I think that's enough for now, and I know that the third myth has a whole raft of preconcieved ideas and myths about autism under it, but I'm not going to even bother answering those. Google it. Read some blogs. Try to imagine why I am doing something before you judge me. If you are shocked at the food I feed my kids, imagine my joy that they are eating a biscuit and not french fries. Try to remember that my daughter eats only 3 different savoury foods, and that anything that is a fruit or a vegetable rarely gets past her lips. And I am trying my best not to worry about it, because at least she is eating, and eating happily. She is growing steadily, she is not deficient in vitamins or minerals(I don't know how) and she is doing just fine.
Thanks for reading this all the way to the end, I appreciate you taking the time to understand my world a bit better.
No more questions please.