This is one of my favorite stories. I tell it often because you have to remember to keep laughing to keep from crying at times, right?
I understand why the puzzle piece is the common symbol for the children diagnosed with autism.
Several years ago while I was cooking dinner in the kitchen, I kept seeing our son rewinding a part of a movie over and over. It wasn't a movie we owned, or one I was familiar with. It was The Godfather. I realized that somehow he had managed to order several movies on Pay-Per- View. I immediately called our cable provider, and I’m glad I did.
Jac, our sweet son, had ordered $80 worth of movies. Some were children’s movies, some were in Spanish, some were pornography—I nearly had a stroke. The cable company rep said my son had ordered all of those movies in the span of about an hour. (Note to self and to others reading this: Always have your remote controls locked and contact your provider to let them know that your child has a disability and some will forgive the debt.)
This was only the beginning of a whole new world our son had discovered.
Two days later, my husband and I were talking about how our television had come on in the middle of the night. It was on a channel we didn't have, so the picture was the static “snow” screen. Our oldest son walked into the kitchen complaining that his TV came on at about 3:00 a.m. on the Nickelodeon Channel and he couldn't go back to sleep. After putting the pieces together, we realized our smart child with autism had programmed the sleep timer on 3 different TV's.
We later found out he had also learned to find the menu button on the TV and had my favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys, all speaking in Spanish––which is fine unless you don't speak Spanish. To change the settings back, we had to go through the menu and look up the words in Spanish.
When people ask me about autism, I tell them this: I think it is like one of those rubber band balls you buy at an office supply store. You can't really find where it starts or ends, but you do know that there are a lot of rubber bands in that tangled ball. There is always a thread that connects their activities together, and sometimes you can see it as a puzzle to figure out and sometimes not.
But this is your precious child and all these things are a part of who he is.
Learn more about autism on this website.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to protect my son from bullying, but the older he gets, the more I must relinquish control of his activities. Here are some ideas to help our kids protect themselves as they become more independent.
All parents play an important role as their child’s advocate. For parents of children with disabilities, this role may last a lifetime. Yet it is also about giving your child the support they need to make their own choices.