Authors Note: My mom was recently diagnosed as historically Aspergers (one of the manifestations of autism). This just means she did have it, but doesn't have it anymore. Although her psychiatrist was painstakingly careful and took over a month to comfortably come to this conclusion, we already knew.
Themes. Hollywood takes advantage of them. It's much easier to tell a story when sticking with a theme.
It can be much easier to understand a life when thinking in themes, too. Our family has a few, but the big one for us is: Autism.
My mom was an undiagnosed autistic. Being her daughter could be frightfully embarrassing, heartbreaking and eye opening. I struggled for years with guilt over the way I treated my mom in my head.
Autism is a funny thing. You can't see it. It's very much the same symptoms in individuals (communication difficulties, social disorder, repetitious behaviors and sensory sensitivities) manifesting vastly differently in each. Much like society's view of depression, there are those who want to believe that it's something people are choosing or taking advantage of as an excuse.
My mom grew up hearing she was crazy, an underachiever, cheeky, a psychic, a slut, and more and more and more. When she would excitedly share the colors of sound, her mom would hit her. When she answered sarcastic, "Who do you think you are?" type questions with the correct answer, "Lynette Louise", a punishment and lecture she couldn't understand would result. She promised herself that one day she would be the mom of many children, so that she could treat them with love and fairness. If she couldn't understand a world of unfairness, she would create one that made sense. Her autistic perseveration became: Fairness.
As the (very) young mom of two little girls (me and my sis) she had to have a hysterectomy. The depression that followed was short lived but clinical. Because of me and my sister my mom refused to give in and searched with intention for an answer.
The answer came in a crazy and frightfully feral little three year old boy waiting for a bed in a mental institution. My mom became his mom.
He became our brother.
Our answer was Autism.
My mom eventually adopted three more boys on the spectrum of autism. She had an innate gift with my brothers. She believed in them in a way that no person (including their birth parents) had believed in them before. She saw herself in them.
But I intended for this article to be about having an autistic mom, and so it shall.
As the daughter of an undiagnosed autistic my world tended to revolve around how my mom's weirdness's affected me. If a situation arose at school and teachers were to be contacted I would do anything to be somewhere else for the confrontation. To begin with, no matter how many times my mom had met the teacher it was quite likely she wouldn't recognize their face and would rudely not remember them. Mom's vision was pixilated and she had a sort of face blindness. Then once the grown-up in question had been reintroduced, my mom would begin insisting on a fairness that systems and schools just don't have room for. My mom's hyper-focus on a fair world left no wiggle room. And although my mom was always kind in the delivery, she was relentless and insistent on the end result. My mom's kindness believed in compromise, but her autistic intensity insisted on a fair one. One that saw the human needs in everyone, in all of her kids. Yes, even the crazy ones.
For example, when only two of my brothers were permitted to ride the school bus, because they were the only ones broken enough to do so, my mom said absolutely not! She would not have two of her boys forced to walk because they weren't "disabled' enough while the other two's disabilities were reinforced by having them not trusted to walk. Mom's solution? Tie one higher functioning child to one lower functioning child with a shoe lace so they could walk all together to school. The solution was brilliant and when done with explanation gifted everyone with important learning's that believed in a future. The only snag, it wasn't normal or socially acceptable. My mom's solution was rather autistic.
No mother could love her children or believe in them more than my mom. Maybe the same, but not more. No matter what child services, doctors or nosy neighbors said, my mom saw us kids as people with unlimited potential.
Lots of days, I hated that.