"Have you ever met a child with Autism? If you have, you've met someone pretty special. My son, Joshua, started showing traits of autism when he was a toddler; delayed speach, he didn't 'play', he took a long time to potty train, he was a very quiet baby but before he started school he could tell you what a square root was, and if that isn't amazing, I don't know what is.
Diagnosis took a long time. At first I didn't want to admit there may be something different about my little man, and then as I could see how hard he found the world around him, I knew he needed some help. So did I.
At 5, Joshua was referred to a paediatrician and at 9 he got his diagnosis. It's taken me a long time to even begin to understand autism, and what that means for my son and my family. However, the more I watched him, laughed with him, spoke to him, the more I learnt from workshops and support groups, the more I let go of the negatives, the more I realised that Autism is a superpower. If you were to take 5 minutes to see the world through their eyes, you'll start to see how brilliant and wonderful the world can be. But even superheroes struggle with their abilities sometimes.
I've recently left work to stay at home and give extra stability to Joshua. If you were to meet him in the street, you probably wouldn't even know how much care he requires. He attends a mainstream school, he dresses well, he's active, he's quite street smart... but Joshua can have a meltdown over something as simple as the gravy I've put on his dinner or that he's woken up half an hour later than usual. I have spent months learning his routine so that I can make his life happier (and to be honest, if that means I have to buy a specific gravy or set me alarm to wake up at 6, is that really too much to ask?)
It's hard to talk about autism in relation to the positive and negative impacts it has on our lives, because I find so many more positives, but I also don't want to downplay the hard times. What I can say is that I would not change my son for the world, he would not be Joshua without the amazing quirks that he has, and they are directly related to autism. I love him, and his diagnosis has opened mine and our families eyes to so many opportunities, beauty and wonder in him that I can't help but ask others to see past the stigma, and perhaps spend a little time just seeing the world in 'their' way."
Author credit: Aimee Takacs