He’s not on the same timetable, but he’s growing too.

Because the days of acute stress are over, I can be lulled into thinking we’re a typical family. I can forget Henry’s brain is different than most. I can think we’ve got life under control.
(Psst. Control is an illusion.)
I forget he needs preparation.
I forget he needs a schedule.
I dropped him off at a friend’s house and forgot to tell the mom he needed a warning before pick-up time. Let’s just say pick-up wasn’t pleasant.
I bought tickets to a baseball game without asking him. He lost his mind with anxiety. I felt like a terrible mother. We didn’t go.

I have to stay awake, to remember he is different. Most of the time, however, this isn’t my problem.

I also have to remember he’s a typical boy.

My sister reminded me of this last week, as I watched Henry plunge into the wave pool at an amusement park, staying close to his uncle but smiling all the way. Yes, he was wearing the required life vest, but I know even a life vest wouldn’t have made this happen last year. I can’t believe the difference a year makes.

This year I’m seeing him show more self-restraint.

This summer I’m watching him lose his fear of swimming.

Next week he’s attending his first day camp.

My cautious, anxious boy is growing up.

While we can never grow lax in advocating for his needs, we must remember this: His needs include growth.  In fact, his special needs actually make it more imperative that I focus on this growth.

In the school setting, we know special kiddos are entitled to FAPE – free and appropriate public education. Education should prepare all children for further education, employment, and independent living, right?

So, I have to ask myself what we are doing at home to give Henry the same preparation. Am I nurturing his physical, academic, emotional, and spiritual growth? Am I teaching him responsibility and independence?

Just yesterday I caught myself putting crackers in a bowl for him, even though I instituted the summer snack basket last month. (He’s allowed to grab his own snacks out of the basket, but when it’s empty he is done for the day.) How quickly I can lapse back into old habits.

There were wins, too. He fed the dog without being told. He asked to play outside without my prompting. He handled disappointment with integrity. Yes, I am proud of him. But I can’t grow lazy, because tomorrow will come. Tomorrows turn into years.  He will be 8 on Sunday.

Eight years. Almost 3000 days. What have I done with them?

The hardest days may be behind us, but the parenting is not. God willing, we have many more days to go. God willing, Henry has many more years ahead of him. I pray we will prepare him well.

New here? Glad you made it! I write about my unique joys and challenges as Mom to Henry, a smart, tender, quick­-witted, train-loving, autistic 10-­year­-old with an infectious smile. I long to encourage autism parents and empower all to see inclusivity doesn’t have to be difficult - it can be beautiful. Like what you see? Sign up here to receive news and occasional freebies just for insiders.

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