In honor of April being Autism Awareness Month we would like to highlight our dear friend Jacob. His mom was kind enough to share with us a little bit about her life with her amazing son to help us know more about raising a child with autism.
Jacob came into my life when I was 16 and he was 7. Now he is about to turn 16 and I can honestly say he changed my life. He has a crooked smile that will melt your heart, a wacky laugh that is contagious, and a quiet “I love Trisha” that he whispers so you can sometimes barely hear. His eyes are thoughtful and it is easy to wonder just what he is thinking about. Since the first time we met he’s had a piece of my heart and I am so excited to have his mom here to give us a peek into her life.
My son, Jacob, is 15 years old, and he has autism. On the autism spectrum he’s somewhere between moderate and severe. Autism affects every aspect of our lives. Jacob needs round-the-clock supervision. Nothing is ever easy or quick, and there is never a dull moment. A good sense of humor gets me through each day, and like most moms, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my child. Life with Jacob is a lot of work, but also a lot of fun! Thankfully, Jacob has no idea that he is not typical. He embraces each day looking for ways to have fun, because life to him is all about what will make him happy!
I wish people knew…how much I appreciate their smile when I take Jacob out in public. I would like to thank those that willingly share their smiles. It is not an easy task when we venture out into the big world. Before I even walk out the door of our house I have already thought through all the pitfalls of what could go wrong. Where could Jacob get lost? Where do we go to take a potty break (because he is old enough that I can’t take him into the women’s bathroom, but he still sometimes needs my help)? I ask myself whether I am up to all the staring that we will get if he freaks out and becomes aggressive. Or he starts yelling because he didn’t get his way. Or a noise occurs that is uncomfortable to his ears. I can’t forget the odd stares we will get because he is carrying around baby toys or canning rings. Do I have the endurance to give the constant reminder, “Hands on cart,” so that he doesn’t wander off? Or “Keep hands to self,” and “Personal space,” when he gets too close to other people?
When I help Jacob out of the car to go into a public place, I instantly go on hyper alert to do all I can to keep him safe, and not bother others. It seems like something always slips through my preparedness, and I am faced with the potential to be embarrassed over something. During one of these potentially embarrassing moments when I am almost ready to crawl under a rock, and I am questioning my sanity that we could successfully do this, I quickly look around to see how much attention has been drawn. Sometimes among the curious staring eyes, I see someone offer a tender smile. That smile gives me courage to carry on, and not let that particular moment bother me, and feel like the outing was a failure. That smile doesn’t cost the person anything. It doesn’t take any time, really. It actually takes very little effort, but that smile gives me the confidence I need, so that I can continue to help my son develop his social skills.