You know what I’m thankful for, especially this time of year? I’m thankful for an extended family that gets it. They really get it.
Every Thanksgiving my one aunt on dad’s side, hosts a ginormous dinner for all of the family. We each bring dishes to pass. We’re so big that they have to fully extend their table, and even put a table in the living room for the rest of us. My cousin, her hubby, her three boys and my family share that table.
I remember the first year we went with Beans. I was nervous how he’d do with so many people. He wasn’t yet diagnosed, so I just thought he was anti social like myself. We took breaks and he ate nothing. Several family members asked if he was hungry, I just told them no. It was really no big deal. It was the same thing for the next four years.
Then in 2010, he was diagnosed. Just a month before Thanksgiving. So that year my dad’s family were the first of our extended family to learn that autism was coming to dinner! I’ll never forget how receptive they all were. They all asked questions. They all listened intently. They never treated him any different from any of the other kids, but they also stopped asking if he was hungry.
They all know he won’t eat anything that’s offered. We’re lucky if he eats a bit of turkey. They don’t make a fuss about it. They don’t ask him where his food is. They don’t bug him about not eating. If he leaves the room to get away from noise, they only ask if he’s okay.
I don’t have to make excuses. I don’t have to explain why he does the things he does. I don’t have to quiet his stims, or explain his phrases (thanks to Miss Donna his SLP.) Lastly, I don’t have to apologize if he’s too rough, or too loud, or too rambunctious.
They GET IT. They GET HIM! Matter of fact, my mom told me that some of my aunts have been “researching autism on the internet, so they can learn more.”
I’m pretty thankful for this family of mine. And I know that if Liam were able to better express his feelings, he’d second that notion. All he really says is, “Is it turkey day? Can I go see my cousins now?”