Sunday, November 13, 2011

So Thankful

It's November, that time of year when many take the opportunity to reflect upon the blessings in their lives. I've noticed several individuals on facebook and in the blogging world are daily counting down the things they are grateful for.

I haven't jumped on the thankful train this year. Frankly, I haven't been in the mood. Things aren't terrible in my life, but I'm just worn out. Physically and emotionally frazzled by trying to keep up with the demands of caring for a developmentally delayed child.  And, it's been a little tougher than usual lately.

However, something happened a few days ago. An "ah-ha" moment that really reminded me of how blessed we are compared to others on the spectrum. Of how worse things could really be.

On this particular day, I was feeling rather sad about Little Guy's diagnosis. He and I had attended a birthday party the day before, which Little Guy had not handled well at all. The differences between my son and the other party kids were very evident, and although the host was understanding, the other children were clearly uncomfortable with the situation.

My husband and I had decided to take the two younger boys bowling, an activity Little Guy usually enjoys. However, he seemed unfocused that evening and kept wandering over to the arcade games. Added to the party experience of the day before, things felt a bit overwhelming.

Suddenly, my attention was drawn to another little boy who kept wandering around the bowling center. He was about Little Guy's size, although he could have been a few months younger. He was with a large family, and each member patiently took turns watching him as he was unable to sit still for any length of time. This child was particularly attracted to the foozball table, pushing the coin slot in and out while twirling the handles repeatedly. At one point, I noticed he was wearing diapers, despite being past the typical toilet trained age. I only heard him speak once; it was a two word sentence comprised of "daddy" and "ball".

This little boy was clearly autistic. I couldn't help but compare him to my son - who is potty trained, able to sit and focus for short periods of time, and has incredible verbal skills. Sure, there were some similarities, but it was clear Little Guy was in a much better place than this poor child. To his parents, I'm sure the difference between their son and Little Guy seems as distant to them as Little Guy and a "neurotypical" child does to me.

I was grateful - and humbled - as I called Little Guy over to take his turn. Thankful he could actually comprehend enough to be able to play with us at all. Thankful I could ask him a question and know that he not only understands what I am asking, but is able to answer in complete sentances. And...thankful he is capable of wearing underwear :) While I know we will continue to have our struggles, things could be SO MUCH WORSE. My goal is to foster this sense of gratitude by focusing more on Little Guy's strengths - his incredible memory, wonderful vocabulary, and amazing intelligence. For these, I feel lucky indeed.

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