August 18, 2014

Dream Catcher

Posted in Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , at 11:17 am by autismmommytherapist


Summer 2013 050

“Let’s go to the boardwalk Mom” Justin asks me, and I watch as he casually slings on his tivas and heads toward the door.  He is clutching his tattered copy of “the Very Hungry Caterpillar” in one hand, munching on a soft pretzel with the other.  In my dream state I feel both elated that he is talking to me in complete sentences, yet confused that this is happening.  As I pick up my purse he pulls the front door open and gives me his signature grin.  I scrounge around for an errant flip-flop as my alarm goes off, and dreams are done.  I lay quietly for a moment trying to recapture the sound of his voice.  I find its timber and tone escape me.

I reluctantly rise from the warm cocoon of my bed and begin my day.

I began having this dream a few months after Justin was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, back when sleep was fleeting for both of us and dreams were easier to recall.  Ten years ago I would often wake up and feel desolate, certain my son would never speak to me in such a complicated fashion.  The dream would be difficult to shake as I began my morning, and often I’d find myself hurrying into Justin’s bedroom to get my “fix” as nothing could chase away the blues more than the sight of my son.  I used to have it frequently, but over the years its prevalence has faded, much as my initial despair at my son having severe autism has retreated as well.  I’ve noticed it’s come back to visit me over the past year as we’ve been eliciting more words from Justin.

I’ve also noticed the dream no longer makes me sad.

I had a number of conscious dreams for my son even prior to his birth, goals I’m certain the majority of parents wish for their progeny.  Back when I’d feel him swivel what would turn out to be his lanky limbs in my ever-burgeoning stomach, I’d smile and imagine he might have his father’s height, would perhaps shoot hoops one day with me cheering from the sidelines.  I also hoped he’d have my love of literature, that we could share my favorites from childhood, and discover new works together.  To be honest, I completely took for granted he’d achieve the biggest goals I had for him- college, career, friends, and independence.  I barely gave them a moment’s thought.

For years, their elusive nature would haunt me.  Now, for the most part, they no longer do.

It took me years to relinquish my dreams for Justin, almost a decade to comprehend that these were my dreams for my boy, not his.  It took me almost ten years to understand that he did not have to follow my life trajectory to be happy- that his daily desires were commensurate in worth to mine.

Despite severe autism Justin is having a wonderful childhood, is mostly a happy boy, engaged at school and in activities he adores.  He loves to play on the computer, stims on a segment of a DVD over and over, and craves his carbs.  I’m not inside his head, but I imagine his dreams embrace these realities, that they bring him joy.  My goals for him are not better than his.  They are simply different.

And acknowledging, accepting and embracing this realization has brought me peace.


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  1. Your spirit and loving nature inspire me every day and I love that you are helping so many moms who need a shining star to follow. You shine Kim and I am so proud to be your friend. xoxo

  2. Chad said,

    What a great post.

  3. Mom said,

    A peace you most certainly have earned. Love mom

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