Guest Post by Emilie Lofgren
When my awesome friend Francis asked me to write an article about “A Typical Day in the Life of Autism” for her blog I said YES! Sure! Easy!! Ready?? AUTISM SUCKS. Done. Time for American Idol now??
Oh! You want more. Hmmmmm……
Well, let’s start with the word “typical” which the dictionary describes as “Qualities or characteristics that identify a group or kind of category”. Well, one thing that is for sure is that no two Autistic people are alike. They are all as different as snowflakes or fingerprints.
My sweet baby Cassandra Rose was born eleven years, one month and six days ago today. I knew absolutely NOTHING about Autism. Now I feel like I could write a book, but yet have trouble thinking of what to write for this blog.
Well, first of all Autism is not a mental illness. Autism is neurological. There are connections in the brain that are not being received properly or at all. Messages about sound, sight, touch, speech, fine motor skills, social cues, etc…. But because the symptoms of Autism manifest themselves in behavioral ways – it is tough. When people see a Down Syndrome child they immediately soften their hearts and empathy comes pouring out. Autism has no recognizable physical features, so people assume that they are seeing a kid that needs to be taught a lesson and the sooner the better!!
So. Back to typical.
Well, Cassandra was the baby that never slept, the toddler that cried and melted down ALL the time, and the little girl that could not talk and did not ask me a question until she was five years old. “Where are you going Mommy”??? I’ll never forget that moment! She blew me away!! Unfortunately I didn’t have a great answer, but I honestly said “Home to mop all the floors honey”.
A typical day in our household may be Cassandra grabbing a knife and a trip to the emergency room…or it could be Cassandra getting a serious case of the giggles and she just can’t stop! A typical day may be Cassandra repeating herself over and over and over and over and over again…..or quietly coloring at the kitchen table. A typical day may be a kid at school who talks her into writing a bad word….or kids giving her hugs and high fives. A typical day may be Cassandra saying something inappropriate to a stranger….or announcing quite loudly at dinner that she has just “fuffied” which is our polite word around here for gas!! A typical day might be a HUGE anxiety meltdown at the Post Office with her screaming “I want my Mommy” and my holding her tight while people stare me down and look at me like I am a child molester. You just don’t know. But I am ready for anything at all times. Just take a look at what is in my purse. Name a disaster, I have the cure for it in my purse at all times!
My husband says that we ALL have Autism – by that he means our family. It is not just Cassandra, but Mom, Dad, and big Sister Danielle. And boy has Danielle been through the ringer. 85% off all marriages with an Autistic child end in divorce. So somehow God blessed me with an incredible husband who is the best Dad ever!
Sometimes when I’m with Cassandra I am lonely because she cannot carry on a “typical” conversation. She has her new fascinations (obsessions) all the time. Right now she is fascinated by Spanish. I have patiently listened and answered all her questions about Spanish and have bought her books and flashcards in Spanish etc… I know A LOT of words in Spanish right now and I’m sure there are many, many more to come!
So, to sum things up. Cassandra is, exhausting, exasperating, sweet, loving, innocent, kind, annoying, wonderful, funny, smart and a blessing. Cassandra is anything but typical. She opens hearts and I know I would not be half as patient or empathetic without her in my life. I am a better person for being her mom and for this, I am extremely thankful.
Happy Autism Awareness Month everyone!
God bless you all.