What is normal? Is it just the setting on the dryer? What does normal look like? Is a family normal because they have a father, a mother, a house, kids and a golden retriever? Guess what? Normal is overrated.
I am embarrassed to say that I let society define what normal meant, and our family didn’t fit the requirements. Nothing that we did in our house was normal. We had Australia in the dining room, velcro picture schedules in every room, and toys in a straight line that couldn’t be touched.
If you came to our home six years ago, I am not sure if you would have embraced autism. We looked normal. But Toy Story played all day, and screaming was a form of communication. The hospital was our second home. It was at the hospital that I felt the safest. I felt normal there. When we went to therapy sessions that was safe. I felt normal there.
When we had to enter the real world, that is when the pressure was on. We never went out to eat. We missed many family functions and weren’t invited to anymore birthday parties. We traveled with Lamby and a backpack of toys/books just in case we needed them. Sydney had limited language at this time and with every seizure I felt like I was losing her.
Each day I would thank God for waking me up and pray He would give me the strength to endure. I began to embrace and accept our family. If people didn’t understand that was okay. I was not an autism advocate back then. I am glad that I wasn’t. I don’t think I could have educated people about our experience because I hadn’t fully processed our situation yet.
I am not an autism guru. But I am a stronger advocate than I have ever been in the past. Autism took me on a difficult journey for a reason. And I am glad that it did. Recently we have been doing things as a family that you would consider normal. But to us it was an adventure.
Last week we went to Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch. We had a great time. Next, we went to the park and stopped at the grocery store. Now if you know me, doing three events in a row is not normal. When we were driving home. Harrison said, “Mom, today our family was normal.” I told him I knew exactly what he meant.
Our normal looks a little different but that is what makes us unique.