I took Little Man with me to church this morning. It’s been awhile since he’s been with me. Quite honestly, it’s often easier to leave him at home. I can worship and listen without having to worry about him, or handle an outburst or meltdown. But today, he chose to go with me rather than the gym with dad.
I’ll admit – we just look a little different than most families. First off – I don’t battle his clothing choices much. He walked in this morning in his too-short sweatpants, gaming t-shirt, and flip flops. This is his typical uniform every day. He loves his sweatpants, and he would wear sweatpants every single day if allowed. Add to the look his ever-present headphones, and, due to his lip-licking tic, the chapped red line of skin under his lower lip. He also tries to get away with showering without actually using any soap, and has a tendency to jam his hands into his hair, resulting in his thick, not-entirely-clean hair usually standing on end. It’s definitely his own look.
He doesn’t appear to pay any attention to what’s going on in the service. He has his headphones on, and watches YouTube videos on my iPad. It keeps him calm most of the time. He does, however, spread the autism awareness by flopping around in his seat, frequently squatting on the edge of his chair, back to the pulpit, or raises his feet in the air. Half the time, I’m terrified he’s going to yell out smack in the middle of the sermon. He watches the clock at the back of the sanctuary, knowing when service typically ends. Often, he gives a heavy sigh when less time has passed than he thinks.
It doesn’t end at church. When we go out to dinner, when I take him to the high school football games, he has his “stuff”…….headphones, iPad, phone, second set of headphones, and always the snacks. At the football games, he takes up the space of about three people, his things on either side of him. When there’s cheering, he slaps his hands over his already-headphoned ears. I’m aware we just don’t look normal.
Most of the time, I don’t think about it. We are who we are. He’s autistic. There’s no changing that fact. And I refuse, frequently, to excuse or explain. I do what I must to help my child be comfortable in a world that’s difficult for him. Yes, we do look a little different, but like every other family, we’re just doing our best for our babies.