This is another essay that I wrote a while ago, but it is something that I still struggle with- do I tell people who I know casually or whom I was just introduced to that PJ has autism? Obviously, I blog about it to death, but since like, 8 people read my blog, I can't expect to find fans on the street who will automatically be in the know!
Well, not yet, anyway. ;-) Until that time, I need to figure out how and when I introduce my sons special differences to people we meet.
PJ and I got an invitation to meet up at a local park from another mom in our area. We had never met before, but I had joined a Facebook group to expand my circle of mama-friends and for PJ to interact and make friends with lots of kids his age! We’ve been so, so blessed in the group of amazing friend that we already have that I decided to push my luck!
My luck continued as the mom I met up with was sweet, friendly, and easy-going! Her adorable son was the perfect age- old enough to be a great example for PJ to model but not so old he left him in the dust (and he was super handsome!). The boys tore around the playground as the mamas chatted and it was, all together, an extremely pleasant morning. We left the playground having exchanged numbers and with promises to make plans again.
PJ was in a great mood, despite the humidity, and the boys interacted beautifully together! I think I noticed some "atypical" stuff more than our new friends did- PJ was walking in circles a bit, and his speech delay is a little more clear in comparison to his age now. Still, for the most part, there was not anything noticeably different about him, at least as far as I could tell.
There were a few times in our conversation that I was about to say “Oh, PJ has autism”. I held back in this case because there didn’t seem to be any glaring reason to point it out (i.e, he wasn’t doing anything exceptionally "Autism-y"). If we continue to hang out and get our kids together, though, I am sure it will come up. How it will come up is the question. I am lucky enough to have a lifetime to be PJ’s mama, but does that also mean I will have a lifetime of outing him as autistic to people?
The funniest thing is, the few times that I have had someone make a negative comment regarding his behavior, I have wanted to let them know right away that he is autistic. I also wanted to hit them with a bat, but that is neither here nor there. The issue is that in a more natural, easy setting I find I don’t know what to say. Do I mention it when my son is throwing a tantrum? Walking in circles? Playing tag with other children, a smile on his face? Do people even want to know? And goodness knows, sharing the news with our family and friends can’t be counted as among my more articulate and gentle moments (that story is for another post!). If I stumbled so badly telling those in my life, how will I share with the people in a more peripheral place? I can only hope that the answer will come with time, and that Pete and I will develop a natural instinct about who needs to be in the know.