The Movie Scene That Unexpectedly Helped Me Understand My Son's Autism

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 11.00.20 AM I wish I had a dime for every time someone told me my son doesn’t look autistic. No, really, I would have a pretty hefty bank account. I’ve heard it from strangers, friends and family. I’ve actually heard more than once that I’m lucky he doesn’t act as autistic as some children with autism. To some, this may seem like a compliment, but for me, I know too many amazing little people on the spectrum to think negatively when I hear the word “autistic.” I see countless videos of my friends’ children on the spectrum who are laughing and smiling and enjoying life. Granted, not every moment is easy or happy, but all families have challenging days and moments with or without autism.

Before delving into the world of autism, my husband and I were guilty of believing these stereotypes as well. We told ourselves many times that our son couldn’t have autism because he smiled and made eye contact. This is a common misconception.

Once we got the diagnosis, things started to make sense. And yet the more I learned about autism, the more I saw that it presents itself differently in everyone who has it. All of my preconceived notions regarding autism flew out the window. I used to hear people talking about a family with a child with ASD and I automatically assumed that family was sentenced to a lifelong hardship. I thought, “That poor mother. I’m so glad all of my children are healthy.”

But now that the mother is me and that is my son and this is our family, this is what I want you to know: My child is not any less because he has autism; he is more. Our days and nights might be hard sometimes, but that doesn’t mean I’m miserable or always tired. We don’t shy away from our son’s stimulations or obsessions; we embrace them, and he amazes us every day. We’re not in denial and aren’t ashamed to talk about autism. It’s a part of him and, despite its challenges, a pretty amazing part of him.

Anyone who’s been around Evan for a small amount of time wouldn’t even know he has autism if we’re having a good day. But make no mistake — years of intervention, therapy and hard work enable him to function as well as he does. After about an hour, it’s obvious that Evan is different. Whether he notices a fly on the outside of the window from three rooms away and runs to talk to it or if he’s rocking and chanting in the doctor’s office to calm himself down, the differences are there. I used to shy away from these differences, but lately I see how much it helps him regulate to rock or jump in public. I would assume onlookers would rather he do that than lay on the floor screaming because he’s overwhelmed by the fluorescent lights or the air conditioner humming. So he rocks and I smile and we go about our day.

While we were going through the process of getting a diagnosis, we happened to watch the movie “Man of Steel.” After watching the following scene, my husband and I looked at each other and we were thinking the exact same thing. Maybe this isn’t a disorder we are dealing with. Maybe our son struggles so much because he has a gift and doesn’t yet know how to reign it in. Maybe for Evan, the world is just too big.

Imagine feeling too much, hearing too much, seeing too much and smelling too much every time you walk into a room. That is life on the spectrum. And as well as he does to cope with it every day, there are days when all of it is just too much. And those are the days we power through.

But most days are full of deep pressure snuggles, tickles and a belly laugh and pure joy when surrounded by the things he loves. He’s far from Rain Man. He has autism, and he is Superman.

This post originally appeared on From the Bowels of Motherhood.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

Why I Was Proud When My Son Yelled That He Was Mad

Boys who cry can work for Google. Boys who trash computers cannot. I once was at a science conference, and I saw a NASA scientist who had just found out that his project was canceled — a project he’d worked on for years. He was maybe 65 years old, and you know what? He was crying. [...]

New App May Help Children With Autism Get Better at This Crucial Skill

Some people with autism struggle to make and maintain eye-contact. This can make it more difficult to connect with those around them and to accurately read people’s emotions and facial expressions. To help combat this problem, Samsung and a team of scientists developed an interactive camera app called Look At Me. In a study, 20 children trained [...]
father's hand holding his son's hand

Why My Son's Long Fingernails Are a Huge Reason to Celebrate

My son’s fingernails are a little long. Mental note: Trim them during bath time tonight. But wait. I haven’t trimmed his nails in a long time. I haven’t needed to — he’s been chewing them himself. In fact, he was even chewing his toenails (flexible little bugger). Anxiety. The past couple of years brought a lot [...]
Melissa and her two daughters

Some of the Best Advice Our Pediatrician Gave Us Was for Me – Not My Kids

If I could go back in time and talk to myself on the day we got Zoey’s diagnosis… what would I have told myself? Everything has just happened so fast! She had her 18 month check up in May, her early intervention evaluation in June, and she was diagnosed in August. So much, so fast! I’m not trained; I have [...]