The end of the school year marks our first full year as autism parents. I would say it has been a fairly good year, one of learning, discovery, and the usual ups and downs. As the year ends, thoughts come to mind about what I would have wished to see in my son if he was neurotypical. Here we go…

I wish he could tell me stories

I admire children my son’s age who sit and chat with their parents. Animated action, loud laughter, and emphatic words characterize their conversations. Well, we don’t have that privilege. I would give anything to get home and have my son tell me all about his day!

I wish other kids would understand him

Don’t get me wrong – the teachers at my son’s school and our church have done a great job of getting the other kids to accept my son the way he is, and even play with him! I guess I wish that all the kids around would get him, understand him, and just give him an opportunity to play with them, instead of pointing at him like he is from another planet.

I wish he was in the same class as his age mates.

Yes, yes, I know that every child blooms at their own pace and flowers at their own time, but my wishes still remain. Being with his age mates would mean that he would not be the tallest kid in the class. Being with his age mates would mean he would play big boy games. Being with kids his age would mean that he would be able to do the same things they do in the classroom.

I wish we could go to the supermarket and shop quietly like other families

My son gets very excited when we get to open spaces, so you can imagine how it is in a supermarket! He will shout, call his sister, call me, and run all over the place as all the other kids around walk with their parents. He will want to touch the cashier’s computer and try out the thumb pad (he also does this at the doctor’s). Thankfully he is not a fan of sweets, so we have peace in that area.

I wish he was more independent

We still need help putting on our shoes, closing zips and buttoning our clothes. We still need help with the bathroom and brushing our teeth. We still need help with lots of other life skills. Sometimes I wish he could do some of these things on his own.

Before you think that this is a pity party, I just want to add something.

Those are wishes that are hidden at that back of my mind, wishes that come to the fore on those bad days.

I am largely thankful for my son. Through autism, he has taught me the value of many things I had never thought about or paid attention to.

He has taught me the value of being called Mom

The first day I head the word ‘Mummy’ I was elated. It was music to my ears. I made him say it over and over. I never knew how awesome it would be to hear those words. I am glad that he knows I am his Mom.

He has taught me how to celebrate the small milestones

The other day we were practising how to write number 5. Sounds elementary, right? Well, for him, the process of writing the number was a bit hard to comprehend. After several tries he finally got it, and I was elated! I made him write it over and over! Another time he read a sentence for me, and I was over the moon. Those are the little things that we celebrate!

He has taught me how to be real

Kids with autism live in a literal, black and white world. If you are happy, you are happy. If you are sad, you are sad. No pretending, no covering up. I have learnt to display my true feelings and not to pretend when I am around him because that is what he understands – something we all need to learn – being genuine and real around one another.

He has taught me to be grateful

Every milestone my son has achieved has been in answer to prayer. Pooping in the toilet was an answered prayer. Writing his name was an answer to prayer. Being able to copy sentences from the blackboard was an answered prayer. Agreeing to be left at school was an answered prayer. All these milestones and more remind me that God is at work in my son’s life, and that I should be grateful for everything.

Yes, I still have my wishes tucked away at the back of my mind, but they are safely hidden away behind the here and now that I am grateful for.