This morning, a coworker and I were discussing our Easter activities with our families. I had shared with her my story and pictures of Philip hunting Easter eggs. My coworker then described how several of her young relatives took turns being, let us say, difficult. The gist of her story was that the three children took turns either being greedy, selfish or declaring the Easter egg hunt that she put on for them unfair.
I have heard stories of these children before. Many of the stories involve them begging my coworker to buy them some item that they just “have to have.” And let me tell you, after hearing these tales, I think that Philip being non-verbal is not the end of the world.
I immediately feel guilty thinking that. Sure, I don’t have to listen to back talk, begging, whining or complaining, but that benefit is minor compared to the hardship that Philip faces not being able to fully express his wants and needs. Plus, even if Philip isn’t verbally expressing dissatisfaction or frustration, his other means to communicate negative feelings can be equally unpleasant.
I know it isn’t healthy or productive to compare my child to others. Autism means that Philip faces many challenges in the years to come. As his mother, I’ll have my own challenges, too. I could easily become discouraged comparing Philip to neurotypical children. I could get bogged down in listing things that he can’t do.
But this morning, when I was listening to my coworker, I compared Philip to her relatives. And I realized how lucky I am. It’s not that I’m lucky that Philip can’t verbalize greediness. I’m lucky because I honestly believe he does not feel it. He is happy playing with the toys he already has or a box or in the dirt. And we may be stingy with the latest toys, but we make sure we flood his life with love, affection and attention.