My son asked my wife one day. Rather than try to tell you about it, I asked her to write about it in her own words.
This post was written by my wife, Natalie.
Like most days, I picked the boys up from school. Cameron is the first to arrive as the autism classes are let out earlier than the rest of the school to avoid the usual end of school day hustle and bustle. This gives Cameron and I 20-30min together to talk about his day.
On this particular day Cameron had a field trip with his class. They went snowshoeing at the local cross country ski resort. At first Cameron was talking about what a HORRIBLE day he had. He explained that he was with the same kid the whole time, that it was hard work and that he really had to pee! He said he was stuck in the trails and there was no private place to pee so he had to hold it. Then when they got back to the lodge they got shuffled onto the busses and then he had to hold it all the way back to school. He made it through with no accidents and his teachers were sure to let him into the washroom first thing.
But do you know what he told me after that? He started talking about the snowshoes and how they clip on, how they keep you above the snow, what they were made of and everything else he could think of. Then he told me that it was a really great day! Once he got passed the one thing that went badly he was able to see all of the good things about it, all on his own.
By this time, Tyler is headed towards us with his usual big smile and outstretched arms, waiting for his hugs. As we walked to the car, Cameron asked “Hey Tyler! How did you like your field trip today?” to which Tyler replied “What field trip? I didn’t have a field trip.” This was my cue to step in. I told the boys that only the autism classes had a field trip and that the boys and girls in Tyler’s class do not have autism.
Cameron thought about that for a minute, got into the car, buckled up his seatbelt, turned to me and said “Mom, did you give me autism? Did you choose it for me?”
Never having been faced with such a forward and direct question about this I was unprepared and worried I was going to say the wrong thing. I told Cameron I would answer him once I got into the car and we were driving. This gave me a chance to think about it for a minute.
I told Cameron that God chooses who’s special or different. God makes everyone unique.
“God chose you Cameron to have autism and he chose Tyler to not have it. Just like you’re good at math and Tyler is good at art. Everyone in the world is different in one way or another,” I said.
Tyler jumped in and said “Ya Cameron, you have autism and I don’t but we’re still the same a little, we’re brothers and boys!”
This made Cameron happy and then he seemed happy that he was the one to have autism! And he was special because he got a field trip. I was worried that Tyler would feel left out but he didn’t feel that way at all. He was really happy for his brother.
This is one of the best talks I’ve had with my boys in a while. Some days, driving them back and forth to and from school starts to feel like it’s never ending… but I will always remember that these times allow us to talk and connect in a way that we normally wouldn’t. I’m feeling very blessed at the moment.