I’m very lucky. Since sharing Jasmine’s diagnosis with more people, the vast majority have been kind, sensitive, and compassionate in their responses. I know what is lurking out there, though. I’ve seen friends and family members suffer through the ignorance and insensitivity of others. I’ve been angry and hurt on behalf of other children who are just trying to function in a world that doesn’t cater to their unique needs.
I can’t imagine how hard that will be for me if it happens. I’m well aware that I can be borderline irrational when it comes to defending and protecting my children. I wish I could create a perfect world for them.
So, tomorrow is my birthday. Nonono, shush – I’m not looking for acknowledgement; I don’t usually make a big deal of my birthdays. It just got me thinking about wishes. Most of the wishes I’ve been making in my head lately revolve around Jasmine.
I’m a realist – I’m not wasting my time wishing for her to be developmentally typical. Moot point. Assuming her PDD diagnosis is accurate, she will never be typical. (I wish there was a better term for that; something that acknowledges the developmental tracks of, say, my older girls, without making them sound ordinary compared to Jazzy.) She will always view the world through her own unique eyes. She will learn, she will cope, she will manage, she will adapt, and she will thrive, but she will not wake up one morning a different child any more than Belle and Ariel will wake up tomorrow with brown eyes.
The wish I contemplate the most is for people to get to know Jasmine as an individual and learn about her just the way you should build a successful relationship with any child. I hope that people will care to absorb her likes and dislikes, her strengths and weaknesses. I guess I hope people respond to her in a typical fashion, rather than wishing she herself was typical. This might sound like a really odd Mommy take on it, but I don’t want Jazzy to be “special”. I don’t want people to think she’s an inspiration, so strong or smart or whatever “in spite of” her PDD. I just want her to be treated with the same respect, consideration, and kindness that ALL children deserve. The PDD is more or less irrelevant.
However – I don’t want people to make assumptions about her abilities without asking. I don’t want people to be insensitive to her needs and preferences. I don’t want people to get so hung up on tradition or ideals that they are disrespectful of her individuality. I don’t want people to try to get involved in her routines or try to set boundaries for her without caring enough to ask WHY she does what she does, and why we do what we do in response.
So far, so good. Every therapist we have worked with thus far has taken a liking to Jazzy. While working with Jazzy today, her SLP told me, “She’s a smart little cookie,” and “I have to work hard at withholding from her because she’s so darn cute!” Her Early Interventionist and OT have both expressed a genuine affection for her as well. I have no words to convey how much it means to me, her mother, to know that strangers who have no prior investment in Jasmine or our family have accepted her as is, and are fast becoming part of the extended family who will love and support her through her early years. My gratitude is immeasurable.
A popular saying within the Autism community (autism, PDD, whatever – I don’t really care what we call it) is, “Once you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met ONE child with autism.” My wish is that everyone Jasmine meets on her life’s journey is someone who can sweep all the labels and assumptions away and open themselves to knowing JAZZY, who likes to do somersaults in her bouncy castle, who loves pretzels, who just learned to play catch with her sisters, who runs away with the remote at least once daily, who hates having her hair brushed, who will always smile when someone sings Itsy Bitsy Spider, who is so gentle with the cat, and on and on and on.
She’s a wonderful little girl who completes my heart, and I wouldn’t change her one bit.