I had never believed in an attention disorder diagnosis for little boys Idan’s age. I always called it “Five-year-old boy syndrome” instead. All little boys get antsy and would rather jump off of a desk five-million times rather than color inside the lines, right? I thought this, and then I found myself researching it. ADHD was the first mental disconnect that came to my mind, because it’s tossed around so often. I thought that maybe that was the deal with Idan. Maybe a little pill, once a day, was all he needed. As I read through the symptoms, none of them matched with my son. He wasn’t hyper at all, and he actually didn’t like to talk to people. I clicked around through some other links, which eventually brought me to an article about autism. I almost X’d out of that window, until I saw the bold letters that read “outbursts in inappropriate situations”. As I scrolled through one article after another, I saw more and more information that seemed to match my son exactly. Disruptive physically aggressive behavior, the tendency to “lose control”, repetitive phrases and motions, difficulty taking turns in conversation, difficulty forming friendships, especially with their own age group, robot-like voice, flapping of hands, arms, and/or legs…I read on and on, and then I just stopped abruptly, cupping my hand over my mouth. It hit me hard, and I felt like I was going to vomit. The tears filled my eyes, and my face felt hot. I didn’t have an official diagnosis, but I knew it to be true, nonetheless. Could my son really be autistic? I talked it over with my husband, made an appointment with the Pediatrician, and began reading every type of literature I could get my hands on. It was time to find out for sure.
I had a habit of going into both my sons’ rooms, after they had fallen asleep, and praying over them as well as their future wives. I had done that for as long as I had been gifted my sweet boys. That night, I prayed a different prayer over my sleeping little Idan. I placed my hand on his head, closed my eyes, and through tears I begged God, “Please, God, please, be willing, take this cup…yet not my will, but yours be done.” I was completely distraught at the thought of raising an autistic child. I didn’t care at all that my load with him would be heavy and more difficult than I had planned. Hard work was something that I sought after. It wasn’t me that I was worried about, but him. Would he be able to fall in love one day? Would anyone fall in love with him? Could he ever be the type of loving and attentive father that a little boy or girl might one day need? Would he ever want or like kids? Would anyone be able to look past his struggles and want to be his friend? Would anyone ever want to genuinely spend time with him? I love him so very much, and I dreaded the thought of other people not loving him too. I had to leave the room, because my tears turned into heaving sobs, and I didn’t want to wake him.
That Friday, I took Idan out for peppermint cocoa before his doctor’s appointment. I shouldn’t have gotten angry at the barista when she called it “mint cocoa”, but she didn’t understand. I told Idan we were getting peppermint cocoa, so that’s what he expected. When she said “It’s not peppermint, it’s just mint…” She had no idea that she just flipped my son’s world upside down. It seems like it would be no big deal. Any normal-minded person would shrug it off and say, “Mint-peppermint: same thing, just gimme the cocoa.” Not my Idan. It took us 15 minutes just to reset before entering the doctor’s office. I tried singing to him, but he covered his ears. I tried talking with him, and he screamed. I tried touching his hands, but he pulled them away, throwing them up and down. He began to shake his shoulders back and forth in some sort of Thriller meets the Shimmy dance move that was neither hip nor cute. People walked past the car and stared. I closed my eyes and breathed through the stress. There’s no calming him down when he gets like that. You just have to wait for it to pass, and it always passes.
Some people are meant to be in your life for a season, some for its entirety, and some for only a split-second. I truly feel that God gifted our family with the perfect pediatrician at the perfect time. Although she confirmed my dreaded thoughts, she assured me that my son’s affection was genuine, and that it was something that could not be learned. She could see the effort of thinking that had been put into his actions. She could see the random head movements and arm flapping. She heard what I was saying, and didn’t dismiss a single word. I could feel the shakiness in my voice as I tried to remain calm, assertive, objective, and clear with my concerns. Instead of taking me seriously and being just as objective, Idan’s doctor used her Pediatric wizard magic to break through the BS and embrace the suck of it all. She said to me through her thick, Indian accent, “You’re a good mom and a good person, and I like you very much. Your faith is going to get you through this,” and then she hugged me and held me close as she said, “It’s going to be okay. Okay?”
She was right. It is going to be okay, because Idan is okay. He’s just different. I watched a movie recently, called Temple Grandin. It’s about a famous autistic woman’s story of her genius abilities, and how she overcame people’s misunderstandings in order to make the world a better place. Her mother dealt with the difficulties that came along with her daughter’s autism while teaching her how to function in society. Temple’s mom shared 3 amazing words of wisdom about her daughter that echo in my heart so loudly — “Different, not less.” That’s what my Idan is, and that’s what every person should be considered, as well. My eyes have been opened to a whole new world, and it’s not what I ever imagined my life to be when I was painting my dreams in my head. Everything is changing. Everything is different now. Different, not less.