I was going to talk about how much Chris loves soup today –bored? Yeah, so then I thought I’d write about the 5-7 things he loves to eat and then I realised how strange it would seem to people who don’t know about dietary requirements for children within the Autistic Spectrum.
That happens a lot. See, when you live with autism you find yourself engrossed in a lifestyle that becomes your life. Nothing is out of the ordinary; rather you find it strange when you can carry on a conversation with a five-year-old. It’s mind-boggling that you could be living with a teenager who would probably be locked in his room all day, not shower, neglect school, smoke, drink and do all the stuff we did when we were teenagers. Because we go home to 15 year olds who watch Disney movies, eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day at the same time, never swear at you, but instead seek your love and – think this is what gets me – need you.
I feel blessed to have a brother like Chris every day of my existence. He was diagnosed with mild Autism and even though he is wary of new people he is not unsociable or distant; all the time. But hey, who of us hasn’t shut out the world at some point? (Or every couple of days). I feel blessed because I have a brother who is safe. What I mean is that we never have to worry about him getting into trouble at school, fights, drugs because he is such an innocent and loving boy. He’s different from boys his age but I can’t help but thinking that he’s better off the way he is. Not everyone can understand this, and I hope I’m not misunderstood. Most people would think “Why wouldn’t you want him to be normal?”.
I hate that word – normal.
Last century it was ‘normal’ to have slaves; a couple of decades ago it was ‘normal’ for women not to vote; it was ‘normal’ to burn women at the stake for allegedly being witches; it was ‘normal’ to be straight. ‘Normal’ cannot and will not be defined – ever. ‘Normal’ changes as often as you change your shirt. We live in a world where women can work in any sector/field they want; where America has a black president; where two men or two women can be married and have children. That’s ‘normal’ now but in a few years who knows what ‘normal’ will be?
‘Normal’ is whatever you want it to be. And my brother is anything but ‘normal’ – he is spectacular. He could do long division at 9 years old, he can multiply any numbers you give him at the blink of an eye, he can remember streets/houses that he’s only been to once, and where they keep the spaghetti (will explain in a later post), he can arrange his stuff so much better than anyone in our family can, he makes the best lemon and egg soup and he can take away our worries with just a smile.
So.. I’ve gone off topic again, but I will return with Chris’ menu next time and the fun he and my parents have preparing his food as well as our many adventures during his early years.
I’ll leave you with this; about a decade ago we went to the Maldives and we always over-packed and were over our weight limit in traditional Perera style. I remember thinking we could lose any bag and I wouldn’t worry as much as if we lost Chris’ bag. No, not because he wouldn’t have clothes, they were safely packed in with mine, but because we casually lugged around a suitcase filled with his favourite DVDs, special spaghetti, special rice, special milk, special cheese, a burner (– yes), his favourite crisps, his favourite juice and last but not least his Omega 3.
The word I’m hoping to remove from your vocabulary today is ‘normal’.