Stop treating him like he is different

June 26, 2015

Last night, in a discussion with a friend, I was told I needed to stop treating Sam like he is different. 

Now, I can't stop thinking about this.

Sam has been different since the day he was born:

  • He was only 24 weeks at birth, but was considered large for his "age".
  • He was off the vent in 3 days and never looked back.
  • He never had a brain bleed.
  • He was out of the NICU before his due date. 
  • His lungs have always been strong.
  • He has only (yes - only) had two specialists... But never overlapping.
  • He is autistic, but in a unique and different way.
  • He is fully bilingual, but shows a dominance in Spanish even though he will no longer let me speak to him in Spanish. 

In other words, I have known Sam was different from Day 1 and I have treated him as such. 

But now, as Sam is preparing to turn five, I need to face the idea that treating Sam as different is no longer what is best for him. Now, treating him as different might be holding him back. 

I want Sam to learn to swim, but have not put him in lessons out of fear that the teacher may not be trained to teach a kid with Autism. 

I want Sam to participate in team sports - like soccer or baseball. Again, I have not signed him up because he is different. 

Hell, I want Sam to have playdates, but have never arranged one because I am scared since Sam is different. 

I think in all instances I am afraid Sam will fail or not be accepted so I am standing in the way and hiding behind the fact that Sam is different. 

Can this be really as easy as my friend's advice and I just need to stop treating Sam like he is different?  

Is that even something I will be able to do?  

And... How do I do that?

Lisa McFadin
Sam is different. Every child is different. They’re woven together from their life experiences. Sam is different because he is a fighter. He was meant to be on this planet, and he didn’t want to wait 40 weeks to show up. As a parent, I think we strive to manage our child’s personalities…is he shy, is she overly sensitive? You protect them based on what we perceive is safe for them emotionally and physically. While Sam is different in the most amazing and magical way, he is tough and intuitive. He can and will get through swimming, play dates, and organized sports as a force to be reckoned with, like he has shown since the day he graced us with his presence. No labeling for this guy except powerful and fragile at the same time. You’re an amazing parent and I’d never second guess any decision you make about your children. Just look at them.

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