Friday, 17 May 2013

Living with Autism

The disappearance of children with Autism (like Mikaela Lynch)and the subsequent discovery of their bodies near a body of water, often makes me wonder about why they are attracted by the water.  
Is it the shimmering reflection of the sun rays on the water that makes it irresistible for them to touch it?  Not knowing the depth or what may lie on the shallowness, jagged rocks, slippery surfaces, endless possibilities of situation that can turn the simple curiousness of these little children into a deadly incident.

Like most mothers, I introduced water as early as 6 months old, to get her to play with the feeling of weightlessness when in a pool.  Often gave her baths and showed her that water is harmless when we know how to swim.  As she grew and knew Science and Maths, I explained to her how the knowledge can help her decide if she can walk or float in the pool.

However, no matter how good I am in the water, splashing in all kinds of styles, when she goes in, she clings to me.  There are times when she takes courage and holds the floater, flipping her feet, trying to remember when to take breath, but co-ordination was never her forte.

One warm sunny day on a vacation, we lounged at the pool and took a fun swim with the single bed floater and pushed her around the pool.  The temperature was lukewarm, the water was cool, sunset was soon and it was very calm.  Some teenagers were being silly and started to join us at the pool.  We decided to just soak up the sun on the giant crescent shape bed-swings sporadically situated at the pool sides.

As I drifted to an afternoon snooze with her on my side, she slipped off the bed-swing and told me quietly that she wants to see the big dolphin floater on the pool side.  I immediately became alert and sat up to finish the bottled water while watching her approached the pool at the corner of my eye.

She walked without looking back, confident that she didn't fancy to swim some more, I stayed on the swing, drinking away my water.  The next thing I saw just as I finished my last drop of water was her hand above the water splashing, obviously gasping for air and unable to touch the pool ground.  I took off my robe, ran as fast as I possibly could, disregarding my cellulite and everything else that can possibly jiggle as I leaped into the water to grab her.  I hugged her, told her to cough out the water, to stay calm, take deep breaths, and I saw fear in her eyes as I never before.  I stayed with her in the water for some minutes after.  Talked to her, got her to take a few more deep breaths before we did a few exhales underwater.
Something told me inside that it was a close call.

As we got out of the water, two Korean girls giggled on the pool side.  Perhaps it was amusing to see.  I was just glad that I reacted fast enough.  They did not have a clue what I go through everyday.  Only mothers with kids in the spectrum really know that it's never rainbow and cotton candy.  Most days are just poop on walls or in the mouth.  Loud decibels and banging are our norms.  When it's quiet, then probably the fever visiting because the word "rest" is not in her dictionary.  But we get by, we learn to live with Autism, and the best thing is, we found that by accepting Autism into our life, instead of shooing it out of the door and trying the old "not disciplined enough" method of teaching, we became the better part of ourselves.  Yes, we're a lot crazy sometime, bet you wish you want to be on this side of the brain often, because here, others' judgement do not matter.

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