The other day, I answered a phone line that I don’t typically answer because my co-worker got called away from her desk a few moments before.
The woman on the other end began to ask about the size of the boats we use and ended by explaining, “My son loves the water, you see, but he’s terrified of boats. He’s on the autism spectrum.”
For a split second, I had a choice. I could identify myself as someone who could sympathize on a very real level, or I could answer her question simply, and get off the phone quickly to answer another call.
“I totally understand,” I said. “My son is on the spectrum, too.”
Come to find out, she had recently moved to the area with her family, and was looking to connect with other families, specifically with the aim of working to expand services for our kiddos in our area, because they really are dismal. We chatted for a good ten or twelve minutes, and exchanged phone numbers.
Since then, we’ve friended each other on Facebook and connected again via text. I hope to meet her and her family soon, and introduce them to some of my friends and their families so she can start making some connections in the area.
I know that sometimes we get tired of carrying this mantel of “autism mom,” and sometimes we just don’t want to see another news article about a possible cause. But I’m glad I made the choice to identify my true self. Two years ago, I was where she is now, freshly moved to a new state and trying to find a new community of support and advocacy. If we don’t take the time for each other, who else will?