Owen and Ben's Journey Through Autism

Owen and Ben's Journey Through Autism

Friday, January 18, 2013

Understanding Autism - a 4 Year old Perspective

I always wondered how Maddie sees her brothers; the "weird" things they may do when they talk or play with her. I wondered when she would catch *most* of my t-shirts have that same word on them, and some of them even say, Owen and Ben. This year, she got to hear me speak in front of her class about her brother and Autism, and she liked to raise her hands in front of her friends and say how Owen is her best friend, and she loves him. How long would it take my smart little mini-me to understand that Autism exists, and it is in our household everyday, when would that day come?

That day my friends, has been in the making for a while now, it all started last year when we bought our Autism Awareness Month cupcakes from Elizabeth at Sweet Art, she wasn't sure why were having cupcakes that were blue, and Ben's birthday had already passed. If you read that post, I took that opportunity to explain to Maddie about Autism, even though I felt it may have been a bit early to start; but it seemed like a sign.

Since then, Maddie has been asking more and more questions, and as she is learning to spell, she really notices the words, "Autism, Owen and Ben". She will ask me the same questions over and over, why my shirt doesn't have, "Maddie" on it, and that is a killer - I could just imagine if my parent wore a shirt with my brother's name and not mine; that shirt would have found its new home in the garbage, cut up in little pieces, and maybe would have had dog poo on it - that's how I would have rolled at her age :)

Maddie really enjoys looking at my tattoo, because I have taught her that each Autism puzzle piece is one of her brothers (she thinks Owen is red and Ben is the blue one, and then the next day she switches them up!) and she likes that she is the pink star, because she is my, "little rockstar", it is something I wanted her apart of, because no matter how much this effects the boys lives, it greatly effects hers as well. Remember - she is the best gift I could have ever given them.

Then we fast forward to last week. Maddie looks at me, and out of the blue (no Autism shirt on or anything!)
she says to me, "Mom, Owen and Ben have Autism, not me".
 I said to her, "hunny, you are right, you don't have Autism".
Then she says to me, "Mommy doesn't either, right?".
I said, " yes you are right, Mommy and Maddie do not have Autism".
Maddie then looks at me and says, "and, Daddy, he doesn't have Autism".

I tried everything in my power, not to look over at Ryan and laugh.

I calmly said to her, with a little smirk on my face,

"Well..... ...... yeah.... Daddy does too".

Ryan pipes up, "yes Maddie, Daddy, Owen and Ben have Autism, all the boys do, and you and Mommy, the girls don't".

Maddie was shocked. She is probably thinking, why doesn't moms shirt have daddy's name on it too, or does every boy in the world have Autism, and every girl doesn't. I could honestly just imagine what is running around in that little girls head about all this.

But at least, I am raising a daughter with understanding, acceptance, and a full heart of love.

Flashback Photo :) 2011