Today Braeden and I took advantage of the warm February weather and ventured to the park after his school day ended. The park is a place I enjoy best when it’s just Braeden and I, for many reasons but none of which he shares.
For the first hour, I hovered close to watch Braeden attempt to join in with other children or just say hi to introduce himself. After several rejections, relentlessly he succeeded and was now “It” in a game of tag. The excitement of being “It” overcame him with a smile so bright and he played the game with the intent to never not be “it”. To the little girl whose four small words screamed acceptance, “hi what’s your name” thank you!
Shortly after the game started I observed small interactions between Braeden and his new found friends. One boy grabbed Braeden’s autism safety alert wristband and exclaimed, “what’s this!?” Proudly Braeden responded, “it’s my wristband that says I’m a boy with autism.” The boy turned to me and in surprise said “he has autism!?” I smiled and simply said yes, not knowing the earful I was about to receive.
This boy was no more than 10 years old, who began to assure me that my 7 year old son with autism was very lucky. I thought, how nice of him to say, but that thought was sure to be masked by the ignorance to follow. “He’s smart, are you sure he has autism? And my mom says autism comes from vaccines, was he vaccinated?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, as I held back my words and smiled because this little boy is 10 and I’m not his mother.
To this vaccination autism expert of a Mother, I wish you were there today, so that I could understand this theory. One I’ve heard before but recently proven by the CDC that there is no link between vaccines and autism. To the next parent wanting to explain autism to their child without autism, proceed with caution; your words mean more than you know. Define it on Google, find an educational YouTube video, or in the words of my 7 year old with autism “Autism means my brain thinks a little bit differently than everybody else, but that’s okay, because it’s kinda cool, that I see the world in a beautiful way.”