High Functioning Autism is still autism.

We just had graduation for my oldest son, which was wonderful, but a lot for our family.  There were lots of family parties, dinners, large gatherings and Thomas did great overall. He’s come a long way.  Years ago, if you would have asked me if he could have handled these type of situations so well, I never would have believed you.  The day of graduation itself was hot.  We had to arrive an hour and a half early and sit in the metal bleachers, in the sun, waiting for the ceremony to start.  He took it like a champ and never complained.  I was so impressed with how well he did.  Everyone in my family may have just took it for granted but I noticed.  I remembered how far he’s come and what a journey we’ve taken to get to this point.  Gone are the days of temper tantrums and acting out in exhausting, boring, situations like this.

But he still has his moments.  Later in the weekend, the parties and the family gatherings take their toll.  His headphones for his computer broke and he eventually lost it.  He was angry and inconsolable for a little while.  Some in my family seemed surprised and quite frankly, annoyed.  But I knew how to talk him down from it and that we would get through it.  Some of my family members took it personally and even were possibly offended by his rude behavior.  And this made me really sad.  Because Thomas isn’t being rude, not to them.  He’s dealing with his emotions, the best he knows how.  And he’s handling frustration and anger so much better than he used to.  We all get frustrated and those of us who don’t have a disability have learned how to deal with that.  I might even say that some of us that don’t have a disability aren’t even always so great at dealing with frustration and anger, but that’s a conversation for another blog, I suppose.

The bottom line is Thomas, though he appears like he’s your typical child now, because he can handle so much, still has a disability.  He still has autism.  He still has struggles with his emotions and in dealing with his frustration and anxiety.  Maybe he always will.  I just need the people around me to remember that the autism, despite the fact that he’s managed it so well, it’s still there.  We’re still dealing with it on a daily basis.  He’s still learning.  And I love him, for all his challenges.  And I wouldn’t change him for anything.

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