Every child is unique and a special snowflake, especially in their parents’ eyes. The truth is, your kid isn’t the only one who has ever: broken, damaged, or destroyed: furniture, appliances, toilets in the world. They are also not the only ones who have ever not slept, slept too much, eaten everything, not eaten enough to survive, etc. But when you do have a unique child it puts you into that special parenting realm of not knowing what to do.
When I say unique I am referring to the child with Autism, with Asperger’s’, who are mentally delayed or who have physical limitations. These kids are unique. They get up every day and know that they are different and still keep going. I barely can get up in the morning if I haven’t had my tea and I’m not unique in that.
#3 had delayed speech. This was in the mid 90’s and it was the first time I had ever heard of the autism spectrum. He did not utter a word except for mamma and dada until he was almost 4. He did pantomime quite a bit. He also was potty trained early, could dress himself, unlock any door known to man, and build Lego creations better than adults. He was unique in his lack of communication and his ability to use that brilliant brain to think outside of the box.
He took private lessons with a retired school teacher who lived down the street before he started school and she gave me the best advice and insight that I had ever been given. Prior to this advice I was worried that #3 wouldn’t be able to attend mainstream school with his sister and brother. After the advice, I wouldn’t have put him in any other school but mainstream. She told me that every child learns differently and just because #3 was not articulating in words what he wanted to say, he was able to articulate in his movements and that was even harder than learning to speak from other people. She pointed out that he hit every milestone early except for speech and that he just wasn’t ready to talk yet. She made me realize that his delayed speech did not make him damaged, it just made him different, unique.
I am lucky that #3 was on the low end of the autism spectrum. I don’t pretend to know the struggles that parents of kids who have more severe disabilities have to go through. But I can empathize with the struggle. Because for 4 years I did not know what was going to happen to my son.
He attended learning disabled classes to help him with speech and writing until one day in the fourth grade he decided he did not want to be singled out and wanted to be in “regular” classes. I trusted him and the rest is history.
He graduated high school with a solid B average and took college level courses during high school. He excels in writing and is taking college classes towards a degree in graphic imaging. He is creative and smart and still sometimes talks like English is his 2nd language but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. He also can handle the jokes his brothers throw out to him (Classic ones about how he rocks cause he is autistic, funny boys) and replies with “artistic, don’t be jealous.” He has made friends and joined chess club at his school and he is his imperfectly perfect self.
So, are my kids unique? Absolutely in my eyes. Is #3 more unique? Not at all. He is brave and strong and absolutely the same as his brothers and sisters.
Little side note here: #3 started talking about a year after #4 was born. One day I was in the kitchen and #3 was standing beside me and yammering and it hit me: he was talking. This stands out in my memory as one of the best things I have witnessed. I didn’t even realize that he could talk until that day. And he hasn’t shut up since!