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Spring 2015 167

I admit, when it comes to Justin’s childhood, I tend to go overboard.

The truth is I never want him to miss out on anything, seeing as I’m not overwhelmed by the landscape of choices he’ll likely have as an autistic adult. I like to push him a bit to at least try something new, always hoping something will click.

And so, the invitation to a birthday pool party came to pass.

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My gut told me we’d drive an hour out to that army base, he’d dunk his head in once, and immediately want to leave.

My instincts told me I’d stress out about finding the pool on that vast army base (and I did.) I knew inherently that just as I have to work to keep him at our own pool, he’d probably show the same level of disinterest at this one. But in this race between my heart and my gut, my heart won, because Justin’s classmates come from all over New Jersey, and there are no birthday party invitations.

So we went. And he dunked once. And then he wanted to leave. The hostess couldn’t have been more solicitous, but when my boy wants to go, he wants to go.

And finally, in the future, I am giving myself permission to listen to my gut, not always my heart.

We’ve been doing this autism gig for twelve years now, me and my boy. Despite the fact that he only has a few words I understand his needs, can anticipate what DVD he’s requesting as if by reading his mind. I know what he’s asking for even when he can’t articulate the words well. I get my boy.

And from now on, when I know in my soul he just won’t want to do something, I’m giving myself permission to just say no.

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