Guest Post Friday! How excited are you for it? I know that this week I couldn’t wait to post Jodi’s post. Jodi brought many page admins together to create a movement to advocate as a group for the spectrum called Mighty League Moms. She’s been on this journey longer than many of us and given hope to plenty of us. She was the one who challenged us to write a declaration to our child. It opened a flood of emotion and made me realize so much. The insight she shares is fabulous. So without any further babbling from me, here is the guest post of the night from Jodi Murphy!
By Jodi Murphy, Geek Club Books www.geekclubbooks.com
I have no maternal instincts…or so I thought. I never babysat. I rarely played with dolls. I didn’t ooh and ahh over new babies. I didn’t cry at ‘Kodak’ moments. I did, however, want to have children and when my husband and I found out that I was pregnant, my euphoria was extinguished by an overwhelming anxiety…would I be a good mother? Could I provide the love and nurturing necessary for a healthy, happy child?
The only peace of mind I had was that where I lacked in baby skills, my husband excelled. He is one of the oldest siblings in a large family and he took care of his two younger sibs when he was a teen. He comes from a family of baby ooglers (so do I as a matter of fact), so I knew there were plenty of people around to supply the hugs and kisses if I wasn’t so inclined.
But the minute, no, the second my firstborn emerged from my womb, I knew, KNEW, that I was put on this earth to be his mother. I scooped him up into my arms and thought to myself, “Back away people, I know HIM, I know what he needs and I’ve got this!”
Looking back it’s no surprise to me that I knew at 2, that something was up with my son but no medical professional or therapist ever mentioned or discussed it with us as a possible explanation for his developmental and social issues. When he played with cars, he turned them over, placed them up real close to his eyes and watched the wheels spin and spin and spin. He was fascinated by light and we’d go from mall to mall during the holidays to look at all the Christmas tree displays—and they had to be the multi-colored lights, not the plain white twinkles. He was captivated (no obsessed really) with the Tyrannosaurus Rex and collected every toy, book, and VHS on his prehistoric pal in order to learn and talk about it, literally non-stop. He paced around and around our coffee table engrossed in self-conversation.
With those kinds of behaviors and noticing he wasn’t following the typical developmental milestones of his peers, I’d ask medical professionals, “Is he autistic?” And the response was always a categorical “no,” followed by varying responses that I can boil down for you… I am an over-bearing, over-protective, over-reactive mom who just needed to relax and not worry so much. Harumph!
It took until age 13 for a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome but we were already doing whatever we could to find him help and support where he needed it—occupational therapy, tutors, role-play, a magnificent school for children with learning disabilities—and my own ingenuity and creativity.
He’s now an adult living independently in a supportive environment about 5 miles away. His struggles are like 90% of autistic adults—he is underemployed. He works brilliantly as a voice actor but like any type of actor, work is unpredictable. So I put creative skill set to work once again and founded Geek Club Books (www.geekclubbooks.com). We’re the autism storytellers through mobile apps, giving him the opportunity to share his talents on a more predictable basis and to share ‘his story’ of triumph over isolation and bullying to being the witty raconteur he is today!
We’re unique. We’re geeks. Working with my son (and my daughter too! She writes our app manuscripts) has been an experience beyond measure. The joy I feel every day and the growth in his self-confidence are so rewarding. And the unexpected bliss of connecting with parents and their children—amazing families who are inspired by my son’s story and who, in turn, inspire us!
My feelings run so deep and instinctually for both of my children. And now I feel those same maternal instincts for other spectrum families too. Oh, and now the minute the sappy music starts to play, I’m blubbering at those Kodak moments. Go figure.