He's Just a Boy ( Short Story)

He’s Just a Boy

Okay Tina, one more push and the baby will be here. I stopped and thought to myself this is the last time I will be pregnant. I have three beautiful children and I can’t fathom having more. Reflecting on my last moments of pregnancy I wanted it etched in my mind forever to never forget what it feels like to carry a child. Taking a deep breath I pushed with all my might while my husband helped hold my legs back and encouraged me with words of excitement and love. After pushing until tears came down my face, the Doctor placed a beautiful baby boy on my stomach. He was blinking and looking at me while I brushed his hair back. Everyone around me was speaking, but I never heard what they said as I was looking at another beautiful, perfect child. Who would have guessed my life would change when I heard the words Tina; your son has “Autism”.

When Jacob turned two, I noticed some changes in him but just past it off as “oh he is just a boy”. He fears nothing or no one. He would climb fences and ran away at the first chance he got. As soon as his sister Holly would walk into the room he would tackle her and sit on her. Brandon his brother would watch wrestling on TV and they would tumble on the floor together. Jacob even got on the back of the couch and would jump off to do a full body slam just the same as the wrestlers. But he barely spoke. Again friends and family said Tina something is wrong with Jacob. No he’s just a boy I explained.

Being in daycare brought other problems to the surface. None of the children wanted to play with Jacob. He was content to play alone, yet no one could play with his toys. Again that’s a typical boy for you, always territorial. According to my sitter, Jacob did not want to do his writing and was always getting mad and throwing his crayons and paper. She told me that he was having difficulty holding a crayon. He just doesn’t like to do school work. He is just fine, all boys hate school.

Kindergarten came around and another set of challenges are blooming. Kids thought he was weird and did not want to interact with him. When the classroom would become loud, he would rock in his seat and cover his ears. His teacher, Ms. Smith requested that Jacob put the book back on the shelf, he would become enraged and he would jump from desk to desk to filing cabinets. Needless to say I would be called into a lot of parent teacher conference, some even included the Principal. The school nurse suggested that I take Jacob to the mental hospital and have him evaluated for mental illness.

I was stunned. What am I going to do? They can’t possibly believe that I would contemplate leaving him in a mental hospital when there is nothing wrong with him except for him being a boy I thought was a little high strung. My husband is even telling me that something is wrong with him. They are all crazy! He is just a boy, look at him he is perfect. A good looking little boy that is content to sit on my lap and have me read to him. He is so sweet with me; they just don’t know how to deal with him.

Once I went home I decided, okay I will just do a little research on the computer. Typed in hand flapping and it came up autism. Okay, typed in delayed speech, a list of things came up but so did autism. Typed in socially unaccepted, again it came up autism. I just decided to go to different sites on autism and see what autism was described or defined to be. The only thing I knew was the movie Rainman and I knew Jacob was not like that at all so I am just looking in the wrong direction.

The list of charecteristics of autism was described almost the same as my Jacob. Since he does not have all of the behaviors that are on the list I guess he does not have it. But just to get everyone off my back I will take him to a Doctor just to prove them all wrong and they will finally see what I see, a perfect little boy. D-day (Doctor Day) came around and my husband, Jacob and I travelled to the Dan Marino’s Autism Clinic. Sitting in the lobby and seeing other kids that would rock back and forth, were drooling and needed to wear a bib, some could not talk. This was not my Jacob. I knew the Doctors were all going to say, you’re just overreacting and he is just a typical child.

After speaking with the Doctors and the examinations were done on Jacob, they sat my husband and me down and said your son has autism. Even though I heard what they said but I was too stunned to speak or ask questions. I just kept waiting for them to jump up and say April Fools, we fooled you, but that didn’t happen. Instead they were explaining other details but all I kept hearing was your son has autism, your son has autism, your son has autism. I was not prepared mentally or emotionally to comprehend what was being said to me. My life will never be the same. First the blame came; what did I do wrong in my pregnancy. Where did I go wrong? It’s my fault entirely, I don’t know how, but it must be something I did since I was the one that carried him.

I wanted to crawl in bed and put the covers over my head and just forget the world. I had a hard time looking at Jacob knowing it must have been something I did to cause this disability to him. They say it’s a grieving process even though your child is not deceased it’s the child that could have been that you grieve. I refused to take one Doctor’s diagnosis and was seeking the answers I so desperately wanted to hear. I visited at least five different doctors that all agreed with the original diagnosis. My husband said to just accept it and go on. I just couldn’t. Researching until the late hours trying to find out why and how this happened, and how to fix it. There has to be something out there that can rectify this. To no avail, there is no cure. Occupational therapy would help with some of the issues like holding a pencil. Speech therapy helps with his pronunciation. But his socialization is up to me to teach him how to interact with to people and become prepared for the way people may treat him.

After a year of the grieving process and desperation, I accepted the fact that Jacob is not just a typical boy. He will never be a typical boy, but he will always be my boy. I have had some people say how sorry they are for me. I always ask why? My son has taught me patience, love, understanding, happiness and, most of all, humility. Just as my other children have. Jacob just looks at life differently than others do. I had a choice to make in life, I can sit back and feel sorry for myself and Jacob, or I could stand up and do something to help others just like me. Helping others understand what autism is about and teaching others how these children act, respond and communicate is important.

Even though Jacob is 15 years old, he still can’t tie his shoes, his handwriting is terrible and he takes everything literally, I would not change a thing. He may never drive a car, or go to his high school prom, or even get married, but I still see him as my perfect little boy. Everyday brings new challenges and new questions but I cherish everyday I have with him. I was given a special gift, my son.