My #autistic son is such an inspiration to me

I know not everyone will get this and that’s okay. I also know that many of you will celebrate with me because you understand the significance of what I’m about to say. For those who are unable to relate, I hope this provides a bit of insight into the challenges kids on the autism spectrum can deal with on the daily.

Mr. Emmett is a character. There’s no two ways about it. He’s so full of personality and life that frankly, it can be a bit overwhelming for me at times.

He has an infectious smile and a belly laugh that will melt your heart.

At just 12 years old, he’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met in my life. We’re talking scary smart. Like, as his Dad, I work hard to make sure he uses his powers for good, kinda smart.

People see this side of him and fail to see that there’s way more to him than just his intelligence and personality.

Emmett is autistic and while he’s incredibly high functioning, he struggles in many aspects of his life. I often find myself so distracted by his intellect, that even I sometimes forget he struggles emotionally. He struggles quite a bit with emotions and while he’s come a long way, due in part to using Mightier, he’s also worked very hard over the years to get where he is.

Another major area where he struggles is sensory processing. Sensory processing disorder basically defines problems that he has interpreting, filtering and coping with many forms of sensory input. It’s incredibly disruptive, distressing, and even painful for him.

One of the most common challenges kids like Emmett face is simply wearing clothes. The texture, weight, and even inconsistencies in the material cause high levels of discomfort and distress, to the point where many kids, including Emmett, refuse to wear clothes or will only wear a certain type of clothing.

In Emmett’s case, he struggles with shirts, shoes and socks. He doesn’t like pants but he wears shorts. As he’s gotten older, he’s tolerates shoes and socks when needed. He will wear shirts when absolutely necessary but most of his life is spent shirtless and barefoot.

COVID lockdown has presented many problems and one of those problems is a need to buy clothing for Emmett without him being able to try it on first. This leads us to my Monday morning parenting victory.

A few weeks back, I took a chance and ordered Emmett a new shirt, not having a clue as to whether he would tolerate it or not. Normally, we’d spend hours at the store testing clothing to make sure it felt okay to him. Since we don’t really leave the house, that’s not an option.

I ordered him this shirt a few weeks back and he tried it on for a minute and took it back off. I’ve not seen it since. I figured I woild just add that to the long list of failed attempts to find him shirts he will wear.

This morning I went to let the dog out and when I came back into my room, this is what I found. I was slightly annoyed that Emmett had taken over my bed for remote learning, without asking but we’ll work on that. Rather than focus on the negative, I was immediately drawn to something else. Emmett was wearing his new shirt.

I mean, I was floored. I can’t express how happy and proud this makes me. I’m hopeful that I can begin to by him new clothes because I now have at least a direction to go in with shirts.

I fully realize I may have just jinxed this whole thing by saying something but fuck it, this is too awesome not to celebrate. I took a picture to prove it happened and to remind myself that we are managing to find our way, even during these difficult times.

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Curtis G.

I congratulate Emmett on this new step forward he has taken entirely on his own.. As you have stated. This is a huge milestone that only us parents of autistic children can fully understand the scope of it. And to Bonnie, and I make no assumptions that you have or have not a child with autism, in my opinion you probably don’t because if you did have the slightest understanding of the pros and cons of mainstreaming, you would not have believed you had the right to criticize Rob’s joy in his son accomplishing what to you is a trivial accomplishment on his own. I may or may not be one of the oldest parents here of an autistic child but from my past experiences mainstreaming can either go one way or the other. It depends on if the mainstream teacher has the patience, any training in special education and also, and very important, classmates who have empathy and are willing to help, make the child feel included and not the subject of isolation or bullying. There are some inclusion programs that have worked. Unfortunately for my son, who is also high functioning and very smart, it became a nightmare(untrained teachers in special education, communication problems with the school administrators, bullying, isolation, etc.) In our case I had to remove him from the educational system and home school him to protect and repair the emotional damage that had been done which included dealing with a psychiatrist and a psychologist and it took three years to get him back to his regular self. My point to you Bonnie is, if you don’t understand this new success Emmett has accomplished and that Rob is a proud father who loves his son, then you’re just a person that will never be able to understand a situation that you probably do not have any experience with. Your intentions and your attempt at giving advice may or may not have been sincere but your tone and your delivery are very way off base. How well would you do, raising three children, each with their own particular set of needs, basically by yourself, a 24/7 job. I wonder if you could do what Rob is doing because he loves his children that much. Sorry for long letter, but I’ve dealt with my share of people who know more than us as parents, but in reality knew, nothing during my 37 years co raising our autistic son.

Bonnie

If Emmett is so smart (and I’m not saying he’s not) why isn’t he being mainstreamed in a public school? Based on your tweets earlier in the school year he was learning things that are being taught in 2nd or 3rd grade in public schools. At 12 he should be in the 2nd year of a foreign language and learning higher maths like geometry. My fear is that he will be very far behind when it comes time for college.

Bonnie

You’re probably right but that’s not an answer. If you genuinely want people to understand then explain why him being in a better academic environment isn’t realistic.

Bonnie

You are completely misreading my words. Perhaps it could have been phrased better and that is why I commented that I wasn’t saying he wasn’t smart. My question is genuine and I wonder why a child that smart is in a school which is not allowing him to meet his true potential. I understand that there is more to it than just putting him in a different school, but from the sounds of it the curriculum at summit is not challenging and the kids are not learning at the same level as their nt peers. I feel this will put him at a disadvantage once he is out of that school.

Becky Wiren

This is great. I remember all the times you used to mention him really struggling so a win is a win!

RU Coetzee

Woohoo, just fabulous. What a victory.

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