Autism looks like blue eyes that look downward, arms that don't reach out for hugs, and toe walking. It looks like blonde hair bouncing, body spinning, and touching everything. It looks like repetition, routine and order. Some days it looks like chaos, and wild abandon. Other days it looks like serenity and sweet calm. Every day though, autism looks like my 17-year-old son Brandon and my 10-year-old daughter Tate.
They are similar in many ways, and yet so very different with their autism. Brandon is calmer, and generally avoids sensory input, including being hugged or touched. When stressed, he walks on his tiptoes. He plays the piano or listens to music to soothe him. Tate is all energy. She is vocal and self-narrates every aspect of her routine. When stressed she seeks tactile input, her favorite blanket or the fur of her cat.
Their similarities are in the way they both strive to be creative. Brandon taught himself to play the piano and has composed his own pieces. He taught himself to speak Russian. Tate has been creating drawings and artwork for as long as she could hold a crayon. We don’t go a week in our house without Tate having made a “gift” for everyone. They both discovered drama at the local community theater and despite overwhelming anxiety, love performing. They have found a second family through the theater where they are wholeheartedly accepted, quirks and all.
Autism looks like many things in our home. It looks like meltdowns and celebrations, challenges and triumphs, risks and rewards. But every day, autism looks like love.
By Stacee Himes, mom of Brandon 17, and Tate, 10