When My Son on the Autism Spectrum Jumped in the Deep End


So today I had to keep my 7-year-old son home from daycare. They planned a field trip that couldn’t accommodate him. That kind of “unthinking” exclusion happens all the time. That’s life as an autism family.

So instead, we had a fun mother-son day: errands, smoothies, bookstore, long silly conversations and a trip to the pool, his safe place, his refuge.

A pool trip where he made a huge leap. Literally. After floating in the deep end together and watching other kids jump off the diving board, I casually asked if he wanted to try it. He said yes. And then he was off. I moved closer and made sure I was smiling, but watched silently as he inched foot by foot out onto the diving board.

I wasn’t sure he would do it. I knew he could. And then he did, without even looking at me. This was about him. He jumped and plunged into the deep end.

He came up a different boy.

Days like these are the ones I wait for as an autism parent.

When we got home, after his celebratory slurpee, I got a message from his ABA therapist. I’d been so wrapped up in our mom and son day I completely forgot about his session and badly inconvenienced his therapist. Of course, I was mortified and apologized.

And there it was again: the mom guilt.

The “too many balls in the air” feeling. That sense of failing on all fronts.

But you know what? Fuck it. Clearly my son needed this. And on this journey it is impossible not to fail sometimes. But I am failing better.

I’m jumping with this boy into the deep end.

Follow this journey at Elaine O’Connor’s website.

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Thinkstock image by Big Cheese Photo

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