So it’s Sunday morning and some of the kids are watching TV after breakfast, and Kayleen and Maya are still at the table polishing off bagels and fruit. It’s post-jog euphoria time (I survived again!) and I’m chatting up Amanda (the Mom of the Mom and Dad team we went to Hilton Head with) when Kayleen, her daughter, asks innocently but inquisitively, “Why is Demetrius special needs?”
This is a first for me, so lets just get the ‘thud’ of my jaw hitting the ground out of the way. Once that takes place, Amanda and I exchange looks that say this is a legit question and I answer it.
“Kayleen, Demetrius is autistic.”
“What does that mean?”
“It is a condition that makes it hard for him to concentrate and pay attention and do things like other kids.”
“When did he get it?”
“We think he was born with it.”
“How long does it last?”
“We think the rest of his life. We don’t know. Doctors don’t know a lot about his condition.”
No biggie. She wanted to know and I explained it the best I could – trying to make it relevant to an elementary school kid without being patronizing or obscure/abstract…of course, when I re-read it, it seems to be spot on what they tell us as adults.
I’m actually proud of her for having the confidence and comfort to ask the question, versus just form some opinions on her own. She has always been great with Demetrius (we have some pictures of the two of them walking and holding hands over the years) and of course I wouldn’t want that to change at all. Heck, Demetrius considers her brother, David, his best friend, and Maya worships her (she is a big girl..with a lot of Polly Pockets to play with at her house).
The other side of this is that it is obvious that as he gets older the other kids are becoming more aware. That’s okay. But it can kind of get ya just a bit uncomfortable when the questions are asked. Especially when he’s just over in the next room watching television (We are working hard to not talk about him in such a way when he is in the room. He might not be able to respond properly, but he does understand – and we need to show him the proper respect as a person.)
Moving on, it was a great couple of days. I’ll post photos and stories soon. But I’ll leave you with this….
When we got home, Daddy mowed the lawn while the kids ran and played. Maya came out of the house, and wanted me to take some photos of her while she sang. Again, we seem to be in some sort of Hollywood phase these days. Then, we went to ride the bike at the bottom of the hill. She says to me, “Daddy, I think I’m ready to take my training wheels off.”
Oh boy…better start wearing that helmet superstar!