In my world, my sons are the stars, moon, and sky. They shine brightly, too much at times, and then other times hang in the clouds where we can dream and admire their brilliance from afar.
My twin 7-year-old whipper-snappers keep me entertained, overjoyed, and on my toes at all times. Joshua (AKA Joshy/Josh) was diagnosed with Autism, ADHD, and OCD three years ago; that diagnosis changed my world forever. His twin, Brandon, was diagnosed with ADHD two years ago. They both take medication, and it is a daily struggle to find a way to have a happy, healthy, peaceful existence.
Life is a balancing act, and we do the best we can, and that is all I can ask for. We are a military family and quite busy. Our life may not work for others, but it makes sense to us. Despite some negatives, I have to focus on the positives and make lemonade and fruit punch out of the bowl of fruit I was handed. I am Carmen Miranda!
We are still piecing this puzzle together. Josh is high functioning and completely verbal. He is incredibly intelligent, and his view on the world has opened my eyes to a new perspective. He can be a master manipulator at times, and his cognitive abilities and analytical skills have me awestruck. He gets easily frustrated because he always has to be “right,” and does not easily accept that he is either wrong, or that he should have to look at the situation differently. He is quick to overreact, and one to size up a person from the moment he encounters them. He has no filter and pegs people to a tee. He has literally told his teacher that she “smells like a school bus.” Thankfully, his teacher understands him and has a sense of humor. She also realized that he was referring to the fumes emitting from her sweater since she stood near a diesel truck. But you have to wonder how others would receive his comments, especially those who aren’t immersed in the ASD setting.
It is a constant worry that I will not be able to save Josh from himself or from someone else. I worry he’ll get himself into a situation that will result in something going very wrong. But I have to hope and pray and trust that we are doing everything we can to combat the various obstacles put in our way. Like I said, Joshy looks at things differently, expresses things differently, and processes things differently. He can be hyper. He can be calm. He can be anything and everything in between. He is my little unique puzzle piece, and I adore him and love him more with each passing day, despite our infinite challenges.
I knew Josh was different at 8 months old when he pushed a toy basket over to the couch, and consequently drug his infant body across said couch to reach a glass of water I had set on the end table; that child couldn’t even crawl or walk, yet somehow he managed to do this incredible thing. When he started building elaborate “displays” around my house when he was only 18 months old, I was even more perplexed and intrigued by his mind. He lined his toys up by color, size, usefulness, or whatever other category he deemed appropriate at the time. Some of my fondest memories are of Josh building his displays around his brother, whereby Brandon literally became a part of the “art.” Brandon would cry because he didn’t want to be a part of it, but Josh would cry when Brandon moved and ruined, or compromised, the integrity of his masterpiece; it can be quite comical in our household.
Josh ran away from home one time when he was 20 months old. He made it down to the bridge near our then house, but luckily a guardian angel called the police to report the incident. Unbeknownst to me, Josh performed this Houdini act and when he was safely brought home and my world had been rocked by the experience, I quickly realized I needed to seek help and change my environment. My husband was deployed at the time, so I utilized any and all available resources. Shortly after, I got the diagnosis and I became “that mom with the autistic kid.” No labels though are needed. I am more than just a “mom,” and he is more than just an “autistic kid.” He is amazing, and I am proud to be his mom.
Josh thinks he’s an adult, and this is where a lot of our battles lie. We have a power struggle pretty much every single day. I once told him that “if you are truly an adult, then you should drive and have a job.” You know what his response was, even though I meant it rhetorically? “Why would I drive when you’re my chauffeur.” Wow, cue dropping of the mic! I literally face-palmed at that moment because where does he come up with this stuff? Well it’s because he’s “Josh.”
Sometimes I admit to myself that I get overwhelmed by all the medical appointments, therapy, insurance issues, financial burden, meetings, and all things related to autism. But this is my life, and I couldn’t possibly change one thing about it. I would never change Josh. I would never round out the edges on his “piece,” or change the colors on the surface. Joshy would not be Joshy otherwise.
The boys have always done things their own way, and in their own time. From the start, born 6 weeks premature, they have never disappointed in making my life “colorful.” I’ve learned to roll with the punches a little better, and I can’t ask things of my sons that I’m not willing to do myself. I have had to learn and grow, and certainly adapt to being resilient, flexible, and set realistic expectations.
The puzzle will continue to come together…I just know it. We’ll stay positive, stay alert, and hold tight to one another. I can’t wait to see where the next step in this journey takes us, so stay tuned folks!