This “In Their Own Words” post is by Jane Parker. She is the wife of a State Department Foreign Service Officer currently living in the DC metro area. Check out Jane’s blog, Spectrummy Mummy, where she writes about Pudding (3, Asperger’s) and Cubby (18 months, not yet diagnosed).
Two kids, one mummy and a swimming pool. Pudding has always loved the water, but has no fear of it. Cubby is brave enough in a kiddie pool where he can stand up, but terrified in the big pool. Usually he won’t allow any part of his head to touch the water, and makes a sorry sobbing sound if I so much as transfer him to my other hip.
So going to the pool without Spectrummy Daddy in tow is a bold move. This is DC in August. It has been a scorcher, and the humidity factor can be unbearable. When we do brave the playground, the mosquitoes ravish my exotic English suck-me skin, the resulting wounds last for weeks. Yuck. Stuck indoors all the time, Pudding can’t help but find trouble. At times I feel like I say nothing but “no” to her. I’m weighed down from being so negative. We’d been inside too long, it was time.
We’d had some problems before in getting her to wear her swim vest, but if she put it on back to front, she was fine. It kind of looked like I’d put my special needs child in a straight jacket, but she was happy, safe, and unable to reach the zipper to take it off. I’m getting used to odd glances coming our way. Luckily people tend to keep their small thoughts to themselves, which is just as it should be.
Cubby clung on to me the whole time, but there was no crying or screaming. At a few points, when he was splashing around and soaking his mama (which he says properly now!) quite thoroughly, he squealed with delight. Pudding just looked calm and serene, feeling all the lovely sensation of the water. The pair of them, who have stretched my heart in ways I could never have imagined, were at peace getting what they needed. I wanted to cherish the time. I didn’t feel like the mother taking care of her high-needs children. I was the special guest at this party. I felt honoured to be in attendance.
After a while, she took to climbing out and jumping back in again, over and over. There didn’t seem to be much purpose to it, but she had the most beatific smile on her face, it must just feel right to her. So often I’ve taken for granted that my senses and my body work just as they should, I’m so fortunate. I wish she could have that feeling more often. I wish everybody could. I’m just glad she gets to have her moments of it, and I get to share them with her.
One time as she took off, she looked at me and gleefully said, “I’m flying!” My heart soars along with her. For that one sweltering afternoon, my love, we both were.
“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.