We had some new family pictures taken at the beginning of the month.
It's a good thing; over three years had passed since the last ones were done. My, how our kids have changed!
In the title of this post, I call it our family "portrait". The reason is I feel this image not only captures the visual sense of our family, but represents our life with autism, as well:
Notice how our family members have their arms wrapped around each other - except for Big Guy. He has an aversion to physical touch, which manifested itself when he was just a tiny baby. In fact, not only does Big Guy not want to put his arm around me, but it's also evident he's not quite sure what to do with his body. Big Guy is a bit clumsy and undcoordinated in real life and moves just a little differently than most everyone else.
My oldest is a handsome young man and looks very "clean cut" in this picture. However, I had to give him some very specific directions in order to achieve this. I reminded Big Guy to take a shower beforehand and wash his hair. I asked him to put gel in it and actually use a comb (he usually just lets it dry "however"). I told my son to shave, and asked him to wear nice clothes that fit and had no holes or stains. One would assume that at age twenty, Big Guy could figure these things out on his own. Unfortunately, personal hygiene is something many people with Asperger's Syndrome struggle with, due to the influenence it gets from social cues - which they are unable to interpret. Luckily, Big Guy was in a cooperative mood and followed my instructions....allowing for nicer-looking family picture.
And then there's Little Guy, hanging on to me for dear life. He is practically inseperable from me because I'm the one who brings balance, routine, and sense into his world. He doesn't do very well when I'm away for long, and even at home he is constantly needing to know where I'm at. It's exhausting having him nearly always at my side, but he is slowly learning techniques to help him cope with things without as much involvement from me. This is extremely important, as he enters public school next year.
For me, looking at our most recent picture will always evoke memories of the challenging, yet rewarding times we've had as parents of two sons with autism. It will be interesting to see how this "portrait" changes in the coming years!