They say “Laughter is the best medicine” and in some cases I think this is true. I know I have had a bad headache and really laughed and it helped my headache. I tend to laugh a lot, One of the things I Love most about Mark is he makes me really laugh. My older three kids also laugh a lot, especially my daughter. She and I have been known to laugh at basically nothing and keep laughing, even though we aren’t sure why. Some of my favorite memories are when my kids were really laughing together and “being kids”. We all love to see our kids be happy and enjoying what life has to offer. This isn’t always so easy with autism. This isn’t to say they don’t smile or laugh, as some laugh uncontrollably and this as well can alarm parents.
Peyton does smile and he also laughs, however he doesn’t laugh at the frequency or level,most kids his age do. He is somewhat shy, as is my third child, but even when he is truly happy he doesn’t “express it” like my older kids do. This really hit me a couple of Sunday’s ago. Peyton’s brother Preston made him an awesome computer. I knew he really loved it because he talked about it a lot to me. He thanked Preston several times and uses it all the time. Preston asked me if Peyton really liked it, I told how much he uses it. Preston was very happy to hear that. He said to me he thought he did, but Peyton didn’t say a lot to him. My older kids understand and accept that Peyton doesn’t always express himself. I can’t tell you how much that means to me that they understand and accept Peyton as he is! I know they love him unconditionally and will do anything for him. I also know that Peyton isn’t going to be understood or accepted by everyone. This isn’t to say we are all liked by everyone, because we aren’t. My point is though that Peyton has had situations where people are mean to him because he “acts different” this hurts my heart, and it also angers me. Part of why I became an autism activist was to help others understand Peyton and other autistic kids and adults.
I am a firm believer that love, understanding and acceptance of Peyton is by far the best “medicine” for him. When he feels comfortable around people he talks more, is relaxed and yes, even laughs! My hope is that those who aren’t around autistic kids and adults, will educate themselves on how to interact with them. I always appreciate it when people reach out to me and ask questions, it shows they care and want to understand. Many autistic adults have enough stress in their daily lives, so every little thing that can lower that stress is awesome! My hope is that others take the time to understand Autism. I also hope those close to autistic kids and adults, shower them with unconditional love. I know with Peyton when these things happen, I see him enjoying life more! Nothing warms my heart more than hearing Peyton laugh!
In September Peyton turned 18, this was a very big deal for him and the rest of us. I wrote a blog for his birthday about how much he stressed about turning 18. http://www.awesomismmom.com/happy-birthday-peyton/ He calmed down some after several of us talked with him. Even though he calmed down some, it made me really start thinking about life from his perspective. While I can’t fully understand how he feels, being an autistic teen/adult, I can listen and try to understand. There are days I feel so overwhelmed at how much I have to do, then I look at Peyton and actually feel selfish. At times I fret over such petty things that can easily be fixed, just requires focus and time. Peyton faces obstacles I don’t always understand, yet he very rarely complains, he tries and tries until he succeeds. I deeply admire this about him.
A couple of months ago, I started thinking about how I could make Peyton’s 18th year special. I’m so proud of the person he has become. He has faced so many fears and obstacles and overcome them. When he was younger he was scared of dogs, seriously scared where he would cry, scream and have a meltdown. It wasn’t until he was about 12 he decided to overcome that fear. Now he loves our dogs and is very attached to Tex. I’ve talked about several of his “former meltdown triggers” in past blogs like new shoes, haircuts, waiting in lines etc… Too many of us take these for granted that all kids will out grow these fears, stresses etc.. that isn’t always true for autistic teens and adults. This isn’t to say Peyton doesn’t still have fears, he does. Swimming, riding a bike, mowing the lawn are just a few I can think of. I know it bothers him that at times he feels like he’s way behind his siblings. Mark and I try to encourage him to do what he feels comfortable with and to take initiative in trying new things. He sees his siblings doing so much… his sister backpacked all over Egypt, Israel and Jordan when she was 19. He knows he may never do anything like that. It isn’t even always the big things, it can also be simple things like going to a movie alone with a friend. He goes with his siblings, but he views that differently. He would like to go fishing alone etc..He has expressed to me he wants to have friends he can go places with, he wants to “feel more like an adult”
This why “The Year Of Peyton’s Awesomism” was created. He and I are working together and will share with others how he’s overcome so many obstacles, working on things that stress him and facing fears. It will be a year-long journey, where we share his struggles, strengths, bad times and good times. Peyton will be sharing this journey from his perspective as an autistic teen and I will be sharing it from mine. We will be working on his social skills, life skills and more. We would love to have you follow along! We will have many awesome adventures and some surprises! We hope we will motivate others as well! You can read our blogs here, follow my Twitter @awesomismmom, instagram @awesomismmom.. Flipboard AwesomismMom and Pinterest Awesomismmom. Peyton has set up a twitter @PeytonAwesomism….an Instagram Peytonsyearofawesomism and a flipboard Magazine http://flip.it/fzQMgn