Since sharing with everyone that Jayce is on the Autism spectrum, I’ve had so many mamas coming to me with questions about their children and seeking advice. I also know there are so many people that still don’t understand what a day in my life and Jayce’s life is like and they are curious. I don’t blame you! It’s completely foreign for people that are not experiencing it themselves and it’s something that many people areintrigued by so I wanted to share that with everyone.
As I stated in my original post, every child with Autism is different since there are many varying degrees and symptoms along with the child’s unique personality. Our family’s day to day life and struggles may not be the same as another family’s. I will say that I consider us very blessed to have a less severe case; Jayce is considered high functioning and while we still experience struggles, I thank God everyday that he can walk, talk, and learn.
Every day is completely amazing, but completely exhausting. In a sense, I have 2 babies since Jayce is still in diapers and doesn’t understand some basic concepts, but it’s even more challenging because he’s a 3 foot tall, 30 lb baby with the curiosity and will of any “normal” toddler. For many people that are around him only short amounts of time, the only thing they may notice about him is simply that he flaps his hands when he’s very excited or his speech is sometimes hard to understand. But, as his mom who is with him all the time, I can tell you, there are MANY challenges.
The main difficulty is his understanding of basic concepts such as danger. He might say the words danger, hurt, or ouch, but he doesn’t understand what is safe and what is not. If I’m not holding his hand, he will probably wander off or run off, even straight into the street. If he is climbing on something that could fall over on him, I will tell him that he will get hurt and he will simply repeat back to me, “Get hurt!” He doesn’t understand what it means, so I have to constantly have him within arms reach.
Speech. Obviously this is a challenge because he knows what he’s saying, he’s very smart, and he DOES understand that we don’t understand him. He has improved greatly though and talks in a lot of sentences now, but there’s still daily struggles and things we can’t understand.
My patience is tested daily with his repetition. As a child with Autism, Jayce repeats everything he says until someone repeats it back to him. If he tells me, “I see a blue car!” and I don’t confirm with those exact words that I also see the blue car, he will continue to repeat it. Words like yes, yeah, ok, yes I see it, etc. are completely wasted on him. In his mind, he needs exact confirmation to feel comfortable with what he is saying.
Speaking of repetition… ECHOLALIA. If you don’t know what that is, it’s basically just the meaningless repetition of what the child says, or what he hears others say, without fully understanding what he is repeating. For example, if I show Jayce a picture of himself and say, “It’s you!” he will repeat back to me and say “It’s you!” If I ask him who is in the picture, he will say “It’s you!” rather than saying it’s me. He never says the words I, my, me, or mine. He refers to himself as Jayce or whatever it is that other people call him or refer to him as. As you can see, my day is mostly spent repeating myself or repeating Jayce haha. It’s exhausting sometimes, but he’s starting to do it less and I’m becoming more patient.
Lastly, his interactions with others can present some challenges for sure. Jayce is very outgoing unlike many children with Autism, but he is almost too outgoing and still doesn’t understand exactly how to interact with others. He’s gotten much better and loves to talk to, play with, and connect with people, but he has some difficulty understanding what is ok and what isn’t sometimes. He might try to hug other kids, stroke their hair, “help” them (basically he’s lightly pushing them), kiss them, play with their things without asking, or get upset if they aren’t playing. If I take him to McDonald’s and the only kids in there are sitting down and eating, it’s a nightmare. He will cry and constantly bother the children at their table. Those whole “social boundaries” things are pretty useless to him I guess haha!
I could go on and on and there’s plenty of things I don’t have time to mention, but having a child with Autism is in a nut shell… unique. They see the world in their own way and it’s an honor to be a part of that. Is it exhausting, frustrating, and defeating sometimes? YES. YES. AND YES!
There are many days where I wonder how I’m going to survive and still be a decent mom. He tests me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I love Jayce just the way he is and as his mom it’s my job to love him the way he is, embrace the way he thinks and sees the world, try to help him the best I can, and encourage him to grow and learn more daily.
Having a child with Autism is a tough task, it’s a hard job, but it’s also pretty amazing that God trusted me with this child.