1 in 110 children are diagnosed with autism.
Corey told me that he didn't know this data (although I think he just forgot), and then I proceeded to tell him another statistic.
1 in 70 boys are diagnosed with autism.
Corey then says to me, "Huh? We hit the jackpot, baby!" as he raises his hand for a high-five. Although I returned the high-five, my mind had already begun to drift. Not moments earlier, I was looking at these same statistics, and thinking, "Why did this happen to Ethan? Why couldn't he have been one of the 69 other boys? Why did he not overcome the odds?" Now, I rarely have these moments of sadness & self-pity, but they do happen....that's just the honest truth. And then I look at my child, and I am reminded all over again at how awesome he is, and how blessed I am to be his mommy. But, truthfully, I have never really considered him or us to be LUCKY to have autism. This comment from my husband really threw me, and I have really chewed on this idea over the last several weeks. Ethan? Lucky to have autism? Hum.......something to think about.....
And then last week, I began reading a book by William Stillman, an adult with Asperger's Syndrome. The title of this book is Empowering Autism Parenting: Celebrating & Defending Your Child's Place in the World. I had actually gone to the library for a book on helping Ethan socialize with other children, and how I might be able to help him achieve that when I saw this book's spine......and grabbed it as well.
I was reading in Chapter Two - Healing & Acceptance in the section titled "Why NOT me?" He was talking about this same concept. Instead of thinking, "Why Me?", think of "Why NOT me?" What characteristics or traits to I have that would help me in raising a child with autism? Again, I had never considered this kind of thinking. And then a paragraph knocked me over.....
"Would you be surprised to learn that I hear from a number of parents who are informed by their CHILDREN with autism that they were CHOSEN as parents by their child, prior to birth and with deliberate intent? (In one instance, a mom told me her son said he chose her over a Japanese couple because he didn't want to learn their complex language!)"
Whether I think this is true or not is not the issue. The paragraph gave me chills. Imagine.....being personally chosen by Ethan to be his parents? That idea.....that concept......is pretty amazing.
At the end of the day, usually after Ethan is in bed, I begin to reflect on my day. I think about the challenges that we faced, the frustrations that we are trying to work through, the communication barriers that we encountered, the fun activities that we did together, and the laughing that we shared. And, like most parents, I feel that I have missed the mark COMPLETELY. And, yes, in that moment.....I doubt my worthiness of raising a child with special needs. I doubt my wisdom, my patience, and the choices that I made during the day. But, then I usually end my day thinking that NO ONE could love this child more than me....no one. But, still, never did I ever consider myself LUCKY for this opportunity. Not until these two seemingly random statements.
But I guess I am lucky! Lucky because Ethan is such an AMAZING kid, and I love everything about him. Ethan's autism is just one part of him, but I love that part of him as much as the others. I find him to be funny & fascinating, joyful & wondrous, and sweet & mysterious all at the same time. So, yeah.....we did hit the jackpot! We have such a special little boy, and I wouldn't change a thing about him. We are definitely the lucky ones.