Nicki: Yes. Just after Tyler was diagnosed, I went to a friend’s daughter’s birthday party. Tyler goes into meltdown with birthday cakes then the candles are blown out.
Nicki: One of his things. And I said to her before we went I don’t want people looking at him like he is a freak and this happens, so can you warn people. She went don’t worry, she said, “My husband’s cousin, is autistic, and he is 16 now and everybody understands. That is fine.” I went into this party and start chatting to this young man without even realising it was this person. He was very clear on which subjects he would discuss with you and have a conversation with you and which ones he wouldn’t and if you diverted from his chosen list of subjects, he would steer you straight back on. But other that than he was a very competent, able young man.
I then had a conversation with his mum and I said, “I am terribly worried about what the future holds for Tyler.” He had only just been diagnosed. I was going through that emotional roller coaster, blame, guilt, dread, regret. What if I had got pregnant a week later? What if I had got pregnant a month later? Would my child be okay? All of those things and she said to me, “If there is one thing I can say to you, is don’t waste your time worrying about it. Don’t worry about it. He will be fine.” She said, “I wasted a long time worrying about how my son would turn out.” She said, “He has just finished with his girlfriend because he was bored with her. She didn’t finish with him. He is going to college.” She said. “And he is lower functioning then your son.”
I mean for me, I think the message would be. It is still your child. They have awful lot to offer. They are just different. They are not wrong, they are not ill. I don’t even think that autism counts as a disability really. They are just different and you just need to understand the way they think, the way their mind works. There is nothing wrong with going through that cycle of you know, “what did I do, is it me?” You are going to go through that anyway. But at the end of the day you will come out the other side of it and you will appreciate your child and you will realise that actually it is not all bad.
One of the things that I saw about children with autism, it was a badge actually and it says, ‘God gives special children to special parents for special reasons” and I think that is a lovely expression because you become, you become a different type of parent I think to a child with autism.