Today is World Autism Awareness Day and April is Autism Awareness Month. It was just a coincidence that last night I watched a movie called “Adam”, about a woman who starts to fall for a man who has Asperger’s. It came from Netflix and it’s been sitting here for more than a week but I finally watched it last night.
Take my advice and watch this movie. It’s just beautiful. Hugh Dancy plays Adam and he does a wonderful job. Rose Byrne is Beth, the woman who moves next door and finds herself drawn to him in spite of his quirks and oddities. It’s a story of friendship, of love, of learning to adapt, of living in a world where you don’t quite fit in. It’s a great story.
Honestly, it didn’t matter to me what the story line was, I had to watch it to see how well they portrayed Asperger’s. I was very impressed. Hugh did a wonderful job of conveying the social awkwardness, the lack of empathy, the halting, stuttering way of talking and moving, the singular focus on one subject, the fear of change, the incapability of eye contact. He was just lovely as a man who is still a man despite not fitting in with those around him.
I have to be honest and tell you this movie made me cry. It does have some sad moments but I know the reason it made me cry was that I was seeing my son on screen. Not the son that I have now, and not the son who was first diagnosed, but my son just a few years ago. Bubba is not the typical Autistic child (if there could ever be such a thing). While he may have regressed into a non-verbal, screaming machine with no eye contact and little regard for danger or people around him, he has made amazing strides to become a social, talkative boy who has–for the most part–learned to cope with transitions.
When Bubba was little, I never in my wildest dreams thought he would be where he is today. In my most secret dreams, the ones I didn’t want to speak out loud for fear of jinxing them, I prayed that one day he would grow up to be as high functioning as Adam. I prayed that he would be able to hold a job, make a friend or two, maybe even be able to live on his own with some assistance. In all your dreams for your children, you just want them to live a happy, normal life. “Normal” takes on a whole different meaning when you are living with Autism.
Watching the movie last night, I cried. Okay, I sobbed until I thought my heart was going to break and I’m crying now. I cried because I recognized Adam. I cried because I recognize the frustration–of both Adam and the people who are trying to understand him. I cried because I know how painful it is for someone with Autism to be faced with change. I cried because I was familiar with his movements, his way of speaking, his bluntness, all the unspoken social nuances that went right over his head. I cried because he found a friend. I cried because he found someone to love him just as he was. I cried because he had to deal with a world that is harsh. I cried because he managed to make his way in that world, carving out a niche that suited him and his differences. I cried because I’m grateful that Bubba has progressed beyond what I ever dreamed possible. I cried because most Autistic children aren’t like that. I cried because I have learned more from my son than he’s learned from me. I cried because God has entrusted me with the care and upbringing of such a special soul.
Living with Autism is not an easy task. It drains the mothers. It’s hard on the fathers. It wears on siblings. I have days where I have to convince my other children that they do love their brother no matter how difficult he makes life sometimes. There is nothing more heart wrenching than to hear your child say they wish they didn’t have a brother. That’s a knife to the heart with a wicked twist for good measure.
No one chooses this for their life, but it’s my life. He’s MY son. I love him ’til it hurts. I pray every single day that he will grow up to find someone who will love him just as much.