The stereotype of rain man = autism is still a reality today. People assume that Sydney is like Rain Man and that she has a special trick. One day someone commented on how she’s an artist and how rare that is. I had to tell them she’s autistic not an artist. My explanation wasn’t helping. So from that day on. I would just state that my daughter has autism.
In the beginning of this journey, I was more on the defensive side. Maybe even a little ghetto fabulous at times. I always felt like I had to explain. I felt like everyone was watching us. The few times that we did go out in public, I would only want to wear my autism awareness and Special Olympics shirts. Or shirts with puzzle pieces on it. I thought this would cut out the middle man so to speak.
One day we were at a karate tournament for Harrison. Sydney was actually quiet, but she was displaying her tippy toe walking. A parent asked me why she didn’t talk. I explained that she has autism and her speech is delayed. The same parent made a comment that Sydney must know all of her states and capitals. I smiled and replied no. Her second question was, does she know all of the presidents of the United States? Again I replied no, sorry to disappoint you. I tried my hardest to move away before the last question but I wasn’t quick enough. She asked me what my daughter’s trick was like Rain Man. I’m sure she probably meant well and I was trying not to be so sensitive and take things personally.
I wanted to tell her that she knows all of her multiplication facts, is bilingual and can read music. But my response was way out in left field. I replied, “She’s really good at smearing her feces on the wall and in her hair.” That parent stopped asking questions about “My Little Rain Man” after that day at karate.
That poop incident did happen twice. The first time it happened. I remember calling my mommy and crying. Then I realized she’s 600 miles away. How was she going to help me clean this mess up? My heart was broken because I thought this was what my world would be like. I admit I was scared.
After the second incident. I decided to sit down and talk with Sydney. That’s when I began using the social stories with pictures and words to help her understand. I could tell she was grasping everything that I was saying. I spoke in a calm tone because yelling would have only made the situation worse. After I talked, WE cleaned up the mess. Sydney learned two new words that day; gross and disgusting.
Sydney wasn’t fully potty trained until she was 6 years old. Yes, it took us longer and it was a struggle. But it was a hurdle that we crossed. Some parents are still struggling with toilet issues with their children. I pray that they will cross that hurdle like we did.
What’s her trick? She’s funny, smart, athletic, lovable, and talented. Sydney loves cooking, reading books, dancing, acting, movies and being outdoors. Syd is like any other middle school girl. Her trick is her smile and sweet voice. You can’t help but love and accept her.