Autism Parenting Magazine Issue 74 (Member's Dashboard) - Page 21

AUTISM HEALTH Gears still turning, starting to grind faster. “What about YOUR doctors? Didn’t they have to touch you down there when you had babies?” “I think I should talk to him about it,” I said with a heavy sigh. “Nah, he knows,” my hubby said. “Don’t you think?” I squirmed just a titch. “Yes, they did.” “I don’t know. I really don’t know.” I could almost hear his brain working at this point. I finished loading the dishwasher. The boys were downstairs watching the most recent America’s Funniest Home Videos. I could hear their delighted squeals of laughter over the cat and dog videos they loved so much. I joined them on the couch just as the episode was ending. “Did that hurt? That had to hurt. I hope you had pain- killers.” I stifled a giggle. “It did hurt, buddy. And I did have painkillers. Thanks for caring.” And that was how I taught my son about preventing sexual abuse. I patted myself on the back for what I considered a job well done. I was totally feeling like a winner. Now here I was, about to read a tragic story of some poor child with autism who had been abused in ways that made me shudder. Only, as I started read- ing the article, I realized it was even worse than I had thought. A 22-year-old man had been accused of kidnapping and sexually abusing a three-year-old child. The man’s parents told the police “he is autistic and has been diagnosed with developmental delays.” The full story can be found here. My mind was spinning. A sick feeling filled my gut when I thought about the gravity of the situation. I vaguely recalled the character from Of Mice and Men, what was his name? Lennie. Lennie, the simple-mind- ed giant who loved soft, small animals. Lennie, who didn’t realize his own strength and without any ma- licious intent, hurt the soft, small creatures. Lennie, who didn’t mean to but did. Did my innocent, Nerf-obsessed son know this type of right from wrong? Did he know that he wasn’t al- lowed to touch others “down there”? I had been so proud of having the talk about protecting himself from all the evil predators in the world. Had I ever taught him NOT to be an evil predator himself? Un- til I read that article, quite honestly the thought had never occurred to me. When my husband got home, I told him about the news story. As casually as I could, I asked, “Remember when we had the talk about how no one can touch your pri- vate parts?” “Yes.” “Do you know that YOU are also not allowed to touch other people’s? Not your friends, not girls, not boys. You know that, right?” “Yes.” Then, after a moment of thinking, he asked, “But I can touch my own, right?” I had to choke back the giant laugh that desperately wanted to surface. My lips twitched and curled into a silly grin. “Yes. Yes, you may touch your own.” I later shared that funny tidbit with my husband. We had a good laugh about it. I often marvel at my son’s mind, at his quirky way of thinking. I remember my awkward preteen years and wonder how in the world I will navigate the weirdness of puberty part- nered with the weirdness of autism. All I know is, it’s going to be one hell of a funny ride. Stacy Bernal is a proud mama to one atypical and two neurotypical kids. She is an award-winning sales rep in northern Utah. She is an ultra-marathoner, mara- thoner, and triathlete. She lives with her husband, kids, and two fur babies in Ogden, where she enjoys the amazing mountains and all they have to offer. Website: seestacyspeak.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/seestacyspeak Twitter: twitter.com/SeeStacySpeak Instagram: instagram.com/SeeStacySpeak Autism Parenting Magazine | Issue 74 | 21