I know parenting an autistic child is hard – because I am that parent. I’ve been so exhausted that I’ve actually stumbled and fallen down the stairs, breaking my tailbone and causing me years of pain that took even more sleep from me. I’ve lost my kid in busy malls and churches and playgrounds because he used to wander away with innocence, chasing whatever light caught his eye. I’ve been frustrated to the point that I’ve had to deadbolt all of the exterior doors to the house so no one could escape, and go into my room and shut the door and just fall on my knees, unable to speak words, sobbing silently for God to help me get through another day. I’ve cleaned up after the daily bowel movement accident that my 8-year-old had, again, wondering if I was going to have to be doing that when he was 18. I’ve sat through the meeting where a school administrator kicked our son out of their kindergarten program because the teacher just didn’t want him anymore. We’ve pulled our family out of a church we loved because our son couldn’t deal with the noise in the children’s church or the worship service. And, God help me, I know more about Stampy Longnose than I would ever want to know.
Most 11-1/2-year-old boys don’t need their little brothers to stand up for them. But, Scott does. His brother, Jeb, is 9 and his defender and protector. He understands, even at 9, that sometimes he needs to be the one to step in and take charge of a situation that Scott is in. He also understands that as they get older, that will remain his responsibility. Because Scott has autism and the social nuances of life are a total mystery to him. It’s not something we’re going to be able to teach him. It’s something he’s going to have to navigate on his own — well, not on his own. With his brother by his side.
Our daughter was 9 when our son Scott was born. Around that time, she learned that all of the magical beings in her life (Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy) were not real and she was devastated. Not because these magical creatures turned out false, but because we’d told her they were real.
So, the first time I watched the first two episodes of of the show Parenthood, the overwhelming emotion that had me sobbing into my couch pillow really surprised me.
Really surprised me.