Sunday, May 17, 2015

ICYMI: What Autism Looks Like... Really

In case you missed it, my column this month on Moms Who Need Wine gave the follow-up to our waiting game with Curltop's diagnosis. I've re-posted my piece below, which originally ran here on

I read through the test results, which may as well have been written in Japanese, for all I got out of the therapy-speak and scoring, but there… under “Conclusion”… there was what I’ve known, all along.

My daughter, Curlytop, is one of many, many people in the world who reside within the Autism Spectrum.

God, I was so relieved to finally have an accurate diagnosis! I was so ready to fax off the results to the misdiagnosis-giving-ADHD-zealots, and reiterate my desire that their bunk label find a home where the sun doesn’t shine! I mean, I’m no proctologist, but I’m pretty sure I know where to put that faulty diagnosis. I was so grateful to be on the road to accessing more services, and getting more answers! I was Supermom, on a quad-shot mocha, ready to rock that shit!

And then… The wall. The freaking emotional wall to end all walls? The Great Wall of China-caliber emotional wall? I ran face-first into it.

What does it mean? What does it mean for our family? For Curlytop? What can we expect? What happens next? I know diddly about Autism. What does that even look like?

That was over a week ago. I’ve had some wine, some tears, some Southern Comfort, and some more tears. Now, I am prepared to share with you what Autism looks like.

Autism looks like a scattered sea of freckles across a perfect nose and cheeks. It looks like an unruly mass of twisted ginger curls which refuse to be tamed. It looks like the most captivating blue-green eyes I’ve ever seen, and I will count, tally and remember the precious seconds they make contact with mine.

Autism looks like one of the most strikingly beautiful children you’ve ever seen. Seriously, it will take your breath away with its beauty, and so will my Curlytop.

It looks like fingernails chewed down so far, I will always be astonished they don’t bleed. Autism looks like an endless stream of goofy “posing makes my face automatically look like I’m experiencing painful constipation” portraits, and a hundred perfect and beautiful candid images.

Autism looks like a heavy coat in the middle of summer. It looks like shoes on the wrong feet, on purpose, because they “feel better.” It looks like the most intense connection imaginable, and it looks like a distance so great, it would take the Starship Enterprise a million episodes to cross it… At warp speed.

It looks like plastic spoons, because metal conducts too much heat. Or too much cold. It looks like all the My Little Pony figurines in the world, because nothing else matters. Except maybe Minecraft.

Autism looks like a violent storm, and it looks like a glorious, perfect sunrise.

Autism looks like yesterday, because it’s what we’ve always lived, and it looks like today, because we continue to live it.

Autism looks like tomorrow, because tomorrow brings new challenges, and hope.

Autism looks like my perfect little girl.

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