Friday, September 2, 2011

In Defense Of My Baby

My little boy is autistic.  And I love it.  And I love him.

For those of you who have been around us for any length of time, we've made it known that Jude is high-functioning autistic.  A psychologist who sat down and watched him for 20 minutes came to that conclusion.  Neat.  Thanks for your thorough diagnosis.

Anyways, having a boy like Jude is amazing.  I wouldn't have it any other way and I think he is the greatest little boy in the world.  And he's my baby.  

Jude is in 1st grade right now and is reading, writing and doing math WELL beyond his grade level.  He has been playing the piano for about 2 months now and has memorized how to play "Happy Birthday", "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and the first half of "The Star Spangled Banner".  He taught himself to read.  He has memorized the numbers, positions and names of every player on the San Francisco Giants and can tell you the scores of the last many games they've played.  He knows how many home-runs his favorite players have hit and nearly every name on the roster that has been on the DL this season.  He LOVES his big sister.  He is VERY affectionate.  He is hilarious and LOVES to make anyone laugh.  He will always offer to share his water or snack with you.  He goes to bed without a fight.  He dresses himself, goes potty by himself, hasn't wet the bed since he was 2 1/2 and can make his own breakfast, lunch or snack.  He is obsessed with video games, like most 7 year old boys.  He rarely throw fits.  He only argues a little bit.  He loves Star Wars and Legos.  He makes quirky noises.  He's super easy to babysit.  He is a fabulous child.  And he's my sweet little baby.

Sometimes, professionals (and some non-professionals) forget that they are talking to me about my baby. They start talking to me about some autistic child with "primal behaviors" (she saw him stick his hand down his pants while he was sitting in a chair - boy, maybe?).  They use words like "services" and ask things like "Don't you think he needs help?" and "Are you socializing him?" and "What kind of therapies are you doing?" and "Make sure you consider his needs in your future plans."

Um, I'm his mom and I think he's amazing.  Also, I spend my entire life considering his needs.  Thanks, though.

It's just that I probably wouldn't talk about your baby like that.  Especially if it was even half as cute as Jude.

I appreciate that people care, I do.

I LOVE his homeschool advisor and how she thinks he is just fantastic.  I LOVE his old speech therapist who thought Jude was just the greatest thing around and cheered him on with me.  I am SO thankful for his preschool teacher, Lisa Southard, who I know probably knew in her heart that Jude was on the autism spectrum, but held her tongue and loved him and cuddled him and only spoke words of great blessing over him.  I LOVE my friend Carrie Jones, who celebrated Jude's milestones with me and never saw his quirks and issues and problems.  I LOVE my nephew Jonas, who protects Jude and is rarely annoyed with him.  I LOVE my friends Joel and Deana Parkins, who go out of their way to make Jude feel special and cool and talk about him like he is the greatest kid around.  I am SO thankful for my friends Aaron and Kerri Gentile who have embraced Jude as if there's never been a thing wrong with him from the beginning.  And that's the truth.  I TRULY believe in my heart of hearts that God allowed Jude to be this way and I wouldn't want him any other way.  And I think he is just plain fantastic.

Sure, Jude will never play professional baseball.  But he may own his own professional baseball team someday...

When Jude was little, I am so thankful for those that held their tongue and didn't point out what was "wrong" with Jude and spoke words of life over him.  I needed that.  I needed to grieve and believe that things were fine back then.  Because they really, truly are.  Even if no one had said anything, I would've figured it out.  I knew already anyway, because I am a good mom.  And good mom's know what is best for their babies.  And it was best for Jude to have a mommy at that time who believed that everything was hunky-dory.  Eventually, I was ready (it didn't take that long) and we are where we are today.

We had Jude officially diagnosed about 2 years ago and it has changed nothing in our family.  Thankfully, "high-functioning" allows us to do most things that "normal" families get to do.  Although, I wouldn't necessarily say that we are a "normal" family...haha.  I'm not worried about Jude's future.  He's a genius.  He's probably going to go to college and make millions of dollars doing some geniusy thing.  Who know's if he'll get married?  Who knows if Noelle (who's not autisitic) will get married?  I'm not worried.

For future reference, if you are a well-meaning person, I encourage you to embrace these little people as people.  They are all somebody's baby.  And everyone wants to hear how great/fantastic/cute/smart/funny that their baby is.  I also want to know how to help my baby, but please, talk about them like they are a human, a child, my love, my baby.  Not a weird, retarded, outcast with problems.  Thanks again.

PS (for anyone who is concerned)-
*Jude is getting weekly speech therapy.  He has a problem with the "L" sound.  I'm sure it would eventually resolve itself if left alone, but we are being "responsible" parents and getting him speech therapy.
*Jude is socialized daily by playing with his sister and neighborhood friends.  He also does Awanas through our church and LOVES it.  He attends Sunday school and spends quite a bit of time hanging around and being wrestled with by high school students.
*He's doing 4th grade level math and 3rd grade level reading.  
*He ran 1.67 miles with me this morning.  I think he might be a cross-country runner.
*He LOVES to annoy his big sister and takes great joy in his role of "little brother".


  1. I for one never thought Jude was anything but a fun, quirky kid! Having worked with kids high on the autism spectrum, I can say that this does not have to mean all the dire things that some well-meaning professionals will tell you. Some of the coolest kids I have ever had at camp were high on this spectrum. Sure they struggled, especially with social skills, but they were such treasures in so many other ways that those things didn't even seem to matter. With you and Gavin, as amazing as you are, I'm certain Jude will be just fine!

  2. Love this post. Love you and Gavin. Jude's future (all of our futures) are secure in Christ

  3. Patty, you don't know how much respect I have for you. I woke up this morning [finally] and saw your blog post on Facebook. I automatically clicked the link, excited to read what you had posted recently. I miss you and your family insanely and have been thinking of you all constantly since I've left for college. I miss baby-sitting Jude and Noelle. Even though it is semi a secret, I will tell you..I can't wait to see you all at church this Sunday! ;) Love you so so much..I know you're a strong woman and will always be

  4. I agree! Jude is amazing!

  5. Erin - Thank you! So fun that you get to work with these awesome kids!

    Kelly - Amen. We love you guys tons. Wish we could be together more often. Let's make it happen!

    Claire - We miss you!!! We love you and I am praying for you constantly! I hope we get to see you!

    Mel - Love you! Thank you!

  6. I had trouble with the letter "L" too, and had to have speech therapy. Now I'm a chemistry teacher...wouldn't be surprised if he ended up down the street from me at Stanford in the engineering department or some other highly distinguished field...but you know what that kind of stuff doesn't matter, he could be Jude the "whatever" and we'd all still love him! So glad you posted this, can't wait to share it with a good friend in the same situation! You rock!

  7. I LOVED reading this Patty! Both of your kids are so amazing and were such great playmates to my kids when we went to the beach! And YOU are such an amazing and attentive mommy!

  8. Angela - Thank you SO much! We had such a great day at the beach! We MUST do that again, even if the Johnson's can't come! :-)

  9. This is so precious! I love you! I love Jude! I love that he cried when you told him about Disneyland! :) I cannot tell you how often I reflect on what God showed me in prayer about Jude when he was just a baby. It is precious to me.

    Love you guys,

    Amy P.

  10. Patty - it is heartwarming to read your thoughts about Jude. God made him perfect just the way he is and you are a wonderful mother to him.
    ~ Charice Fischer

  11. You're not alone. Not just figuratively with all us friends out there, but God is with you always in your struggles.

    I'm just not sure about this whole autism spectrum. I'm fine with Brins being "quirky"... I know she has issues... but what one professional tells me contradicts what another tells me. So what do I do with that?

    I really wish more people would be open and honest about their children's issues; it would make those of us who have "weird" problems feel better about it. You know? However, I am hesitant to write much about it online... who knows what future tormentor will look it up on my old blog and use it for fodder. Am I paranoid? I don't know!

    All I know is that I have to just do what is best for her moment by moment and not worry about the labels because I'm not sure they do much to help the situation.

    You're a fabulous example to me. Thank you!

  12. Patty, this is beautiful, and this is what people love to read and see. Thanks for your honesty!

  13. Amy P. - Love you too!

    Charice - I agree that God made him perfect. Workin' on that whole "perfect mom" thing though. :-)

    Courtney -I agree with SO much of what you've said. We had differing opinions from Dr.'s too for a long time. YOU know what is right and best for your kid - that is the what I constantly remind myself. And I totally agree, labels don't do much to help (and don't really change anything anyway). Thank you for your kind words. :-)

    Cara - Thank you!

  14. Patty...
    You never cease to amaze me. Thank you for sharing your heart. thank you for being so vulnerable, with one of the deepest areas of your heart. I can relate somewhat with Jensen's hearing loss... You ARE an incredible mom, and I'm SO GLAD you know that. Love you, girl.

  15. Cailyn - I ADORE you! I'm SO glad I know you. :-) Thank you!

  16. Love this post. Love the honesty, love the wisdom, love the heart. Also love that Gavin sent us a fantastic email a short while ago. It was the perfect things, just what we needed to hear. Thank you for always being willing to share your life so the rest of us can learn through it. Love, Crystal C.

  17. Dear Patty,
    Jude was one of the coolest little kids I have ever had the joy of being around (and I'm sure he still is!). From what I've seen on your blog the last couple of years, your babies are both amazing (and adorable)!

  18. "not a weird, retarded outcast with problems."

    i am weeping in agreement over this post.
    our 3 year old son, and only child, has been recently diagnosed with autism. we have just started out on this new, scary, hopeful journey. thank you for your encouragement! your jude is adorable! i don't get by here often enough!

    PS carina sent me to this post. so grateful she did:)