Parenting can be tough…any kind of parenting. We worry about their safety, their development, their…well, everything. When I look at Katie I worry, but I know that it’s the same worry that every loving mom or dad feels for their kiddo.
But for those of us with special needs kids, sometimes some moments can be especially hard. The other day while walking Brooke to school, we fell in behind a couple of girls in her grade. They were chatting away about this and that. One turned to ask why I was wearing shorts while it was snowing and so cold. I laughed. Meanwhile Brooke was running through a few of her morning scripts. The girls went back to their conversation and Brooke continued with he scripts.
That’s when it really hit me (for like the millionth time) just how big the gap between Brooke and her classmates is and, even harder to take, the fact that there was no exchange whatsoever between these two girls and my daughter…not a “hey”, not a “hi”, not even a nod of acknowledgement. One of the girls had had a few play dates with Brooke over the years, and is one of the nicer, sweeter kids in her grade, but on that day there was nothing. It wasn’t intentional or mean-spirited; it wasn’t an active blindness, but it was a blindness nonetheless. It was as if she and her friend didn’t see Brooke at all.
Brooke herself didn’t seem to notice or care; she simply pushed on with her morning scripts. I, on the other hand, was devastated.
With Middle School looming not so far away, and then High School and beyond, I am having a harder and harder time imagining what Brooke’s adult life will be like. I used to be able to see it. It was as clear as HD TV in my mind; but with each passing year, month, week, day…the picture loses a little focus and what I see in my mind becomes a little more foggy, a little more murky, a little more unclear.
I did find some hope this past weekend. I was lucky enough to be invited to a dinner of young autistic adults. Some were more talkative than others. I chatted with several people on varying topics. Most importantly though, Brooke seemed comfortable with the people there. They all acknowledged her presence – they all saw her (and she saw them).
So as cloudy and as murky as my images of the future may be, it is comforting to know that out there in the real world are autistic people who support each other, cheer for each other, but most importantly, see each other. As long as I know that Brooke will have that when she grows up, I can live with the picture in my head being a bit out of focus.