10 Ways My Kid With Autism Kicks Butt
Here’s why my kid with autism kicks butt. I would say “kicks butt and takes names,” but he’s terrible with names.
Anyway, here is why:
1. He doesn’t break rules. He sees things as black and white, so when he’s given a rule, he sticks with it. If he has 10 minutes on a computer game, he will turn the game off right at the buzzer. If he has to do chores before he can go on a bike ride, he does them immediately without argument. The only exception is a rule like “no iPad after 7:30 p.m.,” but you know, what kid doesn’t wake up at 2 a.m. to watch animal videos?
2. He isn’t mean. When you make a friend in him, you make a friend for life. He will never say anything mean to you — unless he’s your brother, but then he instantly feels badly about it and gives a hug and apology. So that’s not so bad, either.
3. He can’t lie. If he tries to, his dimple and devilish grin give him away immediately.
4. He’s consistent. My son with autism doesn’t vary his daily activities very much. So if you want to know where he is after lunch on a certain day at school, you’ll know just where to find him. Or if he’s misplaced something, it’s easy to follow his tracks and find it pretty quickly.
5. Small things are huge successes. He feels so grown up when he walks our neighborhood loop all by himself. When he wants one thing at a restaurant but has to choose something else because his desired item isn’t on the menu, he’s happy that we praise his flexibility. When he does homework at home instead of at school without a meltdown, his grin reaches ear-to-ear as we tell him how proud we are. Baby steps. But if you string enough baby steps together, soon you can look backwards and see how far you have come.
6. BirthDAYS are birthday WEEKS. He celebrates each day leading up to his big day and walks with a little more spring in his step as that day approaches. Just looking at him makes everyone around him smile. It also helps my case when I tell my husband I’m entitled to a birthday month, but I digress.
7. He’s confident and doesn’t care what others think about him. When was the last time you met someone who didn’t care if someone giggles at them if their shirt is on inside-out? Or isn’t upset by people staring at them because they’re thinking of a movie in their head and mouthing the words? He is who he is. He does what he does. He’s happy. Negative people aren’t even a tiny blip on his radar. Unless someone says “Hi TJ!” or “How are you today?” — then, of course, he cares and is happy to interact. But if anyone is negative to him during his day, it’s like water off a duck’s back. Unless, of course, he’s arguing with his brother, which is rare. We look at that as a good opportunity for him to learn how to stand up for himself. He’s pretty good at it.
8. He’s so, so kind. If he comes across a friend who’s sad or having a hard time, he will pat their back and say, “It’s OK, I’ve got your back.” Or if his brother has lost a soccer game, he hugs him and says “I know you’ll get them next time. I have faith in you.”
9. He has a fantastic sense of humor. Yes, a lot of what he says is taken from a favorite movie or TV show, but if he finds a way to use it appropriately in an interaction with someone and the humor makes him and his friends laugh, what’s wrong with that? It may be an unconventional way of connecting with someone, but the fact that he recognizes it as a tool to make a connection is a victory in my book. Things get a little iffy when his potty-mouth humor comes into play, but he’s quick to learn what is and what isn’t OK to say in public.
10. He cares. He cares about others, he cares about himself, he cares about his town, he cares about animals and he cares about the world around him. He will stop to pick up litter if he sees it in his school parking lot. He will hug a friend or family member if he sees them crying. He hands out animal facts to people walking by the foot of our driveway so he’s not alone in his fight against poachers or helping endangered species. If he learns from my Facebook that a friend has scored a goal for their sports team, or gotten their braces off, or won a wrestling match, he will ask me to pass along his encouragement. His’s a sweet, caring, thoughtful heart, and he shares it often.
For these reasons — and so many more — my kid with autism is a fantastic, kick-butt kiddo. I’m so, so lucky to have him.
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