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Why I’m happy the doctor says my son is autistic

Why I’m happy the doctor says my son is autistic

son autism
Max and his mother Jennifer Lockery, on the day they decided to start homeschooling him. Photo: supplied
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Sounds crazy, right? 
Hang with me.

When Max was just a year, I had that quirky, weird feeling that something just wasn’t right. New kid, new mum, no guidebook to tell me wrong from right so I just rode it out.

Preschool constantly talked about attention issues, to which I agreed, but I felt like I was lost in an experience that no one understood or could give me a recipe to follow to just make life simple and sweet.

Max’s journey with Asperger’s hasn’t been traditional – but none are. Photo: supplied

Eight years ago we received the psychologist’s report that ended with: “Max has strong, apparent signs of Asperger’s, further testing is required for official document that will cost you.” Cost us big time.

At the time, we barely had enough money for the first consultation so we had to put that aside. But that last line was like a bulb that was flickering for years, I just wasn’t ready to look at the light.

The more I researched, the more it was in-my-face-obvious. It wasn’t about labels, but more about knowing our mountain so we can get the proper tools to start the journey.

So I learned, I studied, I made tonnes of mistakes. I still do, all the time. But over the years, the amount of time and work spent teaching Max about emotional intelligence is CEO worthy.

Patience I wasn’t always sure I could find, mixed with daily lessons on the complexities of simply reading facial expression so he wouldn’t continue to be sitting alone. All worth it, because if you know him, you understand.

But here’s the thing.

Just recently, on the border of his 16th birthday, we have gone through the process of getting that stamp of approval, official document, signed on the dotted line piece of paper. Without it, colleges won’t have flexibility just because his mother said, “This is what I know he has”.

Teachers can’t snap their fingers and whisk in extra support to help get better grades to get in to college, even though they see what I see in him. My cool as first born loves, lives, thrives and, despite the autism norm, is pretty rad at baseball.

“His unwavering love for baseball has been such a bright light of what success looks like. Max has learned what focus, intent and hard work can reward you with on the diamond.” Photo: supplied

It’s his big audacious goal to get a scholarship to play on a US mound. He is switched-on enough to make the decision to repeat year 9 so that he can get better grades for universities to smile at his application, because he knows his cognitive challenges are legit.

This process is something we should have gone through ages ago – file under ‘still making mistakes’. The interviews with the psych were long, detailed and at times, stinkin’ emotional.

I thought I was way beyond the heartache that went along with little Max but our deep memory vaults have a way of reappearing. I, no joke, had my first panic attack in ages from all the flashbacks it brought up.

You can bet I was opening a whole lot of things in my office 60 seconds in.

If all the diligence of patience and dedication purposely given doesn’t translate to “high functioning” and is signed off as “normal”, my heart might just break a bit. This six-foot-tall Max is leaps and bounds past eight-year-old Max, but that’s not by accident.

He didn’t just grow out of it. It wasn’t a phase. You don’t heal from it and it, for sure, doesn’t just disappear.

You find skills to see things that don’t come naturally or you don’t. You take the time, the tissues and the wine needed to make tomorrow better than today, or you put your head in the sand.

“Learning what ‘different’ looks like has been an everyday learning experience for all of us, including Ryan and Olivia, his two younger siblings. From an early age they both have watched his growing process evolve, teaching them patience and compassion.” Photo: supplied

I know which peg I am.

So this mama was patiently waiting. Hoping for our diagnosis.


Gratefully, it came. With a kind, “Are those happy tears or sad tears?” when our lovely psych told us the news.

So now we move forward, with the answer we needed, knowing what we have always known.

And possibly questioning if I crossed some sort of line when I told him several times before his appointment, “Now while you are in there Max, just try be as aspie as you can, OK bud?”

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