Today, AJ turned 9 years old. It's unbelievable to me. It seems like just yesterday that I was in a neverending labor (76 hours all together). When he was finally born, it was a miracle. I was never supposed to be able to get pregnant in the first place. He was so tiny, only 6 pounds even, but 21 inches long. You could count his ribs (still can, actually). He was absolutely perfect. So incredibly beautiful that he took my breath away.
Right away, though, he seemed more sensitive to stimulus than other babies. He cried more and slept less. We just thought that he was high maintenance, like his mama. He was developing cognitively right on track or early. He was speaking words by nine months old, and sentences by 1 year old. He read early, too. But, he didn't crawl until 1 year, and walked by 18 months. He didn't want to play with the other kids. We thought maybe he was so bright that he was frustrated by the other kids. That may have been part of it.
At first, he didn't seem that much different than other kids. Even after his diagnosis of Autism, the differences were pretty minor. He social skills were a little delayed, he gross motor skills were a little delayed, he melted down a little more. But in kindergarten, and even first grade, it didn't seem that big.
Now, though, the differences - well, they're huge. The kids his age care about fashion already. They care about their friends, and don't want to hang out with their moms. They don't meltdown, at least in public. They get embarassed by their parents in front of their friends.
AJ doesn't do any of that. And it breaks my heart. I watch the gap between him and the other kids get bigger and bigger. I wonder if it's unsurmoutable. I wonder how he will function in the world. I wonder how he will handle the working environment. He just doesn't like people, and he just wants to avoid any and all socializing at any cost.
So, I worry. Constantly. But, those big blue eyes, and that amazing giggle still take my breath away. That sweet smile can melt anyone's heart. So, on his birthday, I'm making a wish. I wish people would learn to accept differences. To open their hearts and notice the beauty in our kids. To make the world a safe place to live and love and be safe for everyone, even if they're different, just because they're people. For my son, and all the people in the world like him, I'm working my butt off to make this wish come true.