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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Blue 16

Dear Blue,

Sixteen years ago your unique, little soul came into my life. You were an easy, breezy baby. Curious by nature and naturally independent. You started trying to walk when you were 8 months old. You were successfully running by the time you were 10 months.  As soon as you started to get around, you were wrestling with your big brother.  I remember thinking, who taught this baby to do a headlock? 

You were a messy toddler, always climbing and getting into everything. You had an affinity for getting into things like lotion and baby powder. You once massaged my bedroom carpet with Vaseline. You were always climbing onto the counters and into my cabinets.  One time you climbed the pantry shelves and spilled the cooking oil all over the floor.

I always felt like an angel with wings followed you around because for all of your climbing, you never got hurt. One of the reasons you climbed is because, you did not want to ask for what you wanted. You wanted to get it yourself!

At 18 months, we moved up here to Austin and bought our first home. We put a gate on the stairwell to keep you safe upstairs, especially since you started climbing out of your baby bed.  I will never forget the day, you came to my room with a box of cereal. You had climbed over the gate, walked down the stairs,  climbed up to the top shelf of the pantry to get the cereal and then climbed back down. Then you climbed up the stairs cereal in tow, back over the gate and strolled into my room to wake me up.

Notice, you didn't wake me up to get the cereal for you! And that still hasn't changed. You continue to find your way through life.  No matter how much I want to and try to help you, you pretty much want to do most things on your own.  That quality will serve you well throughout your life.

You have always been a deep thinker, asking me questions about things that I've never even thought about. You have always had a strong interest in science and weather. You could be found, talking about politics while on the playground or in the swimming pool instead of playing. I remember once saying the words, "Stop talking about politics and go swim!" That was the year that President Obama was running for President. You and your best friend J, had some pretty interesting debates about that election.

That brings me to another point, despite your social challenges caused by autism, you have managed to connect to friends so deeply, that those friends remain in your life to this day.  You met the twins in pre-school. You all were 3 years-old.  Your friendship flourished over the years and in middle school it seemed to really take off.  Here we are 13 years later and you guys are still hanging. You're like brothers. And even through some challenging times in your lives, you guys have been there for each other, forgiven each other and continued to grow your relationship.

You met J. in the 3rd grade when you guys shared a class.  You advocated to help transport J. in his wheelchair to lunch and other activities.  Thankfully, he is stronger now and no longer needs to be pushed in a wheelchair. Even though the two of you are not in the same school anymore, you have remained close while going to different middle and high schools.  You made the effort to continue to call and make social plans with him on the weekends and throughout the summer. That speaks highly of your character.

You were always so different than your brother so for the longest, you went without a proper diagnosis. I knew that you had strong opinions and you really challenged some of your teachers. You were also insightful. In first grade you told me that your teacher didn't like you. That she never smiled at any of the boys in class.  She and I had to have a few chats and then I had to chat with her boss, the principal. By the end of the school year, you guys were pals. I saw her a few years later and she said, she still has your picture on her desk.

You frustrated the hell out of your 5th grade teacher. It was his first year teaching and you challenged him often. Because of course, you knew more than he did.

It was the years of fear and anxiety over thunderstorms that got me really worried about you. Do you remember hiding sometimes for days at a time, when there was even a threat of storms? By that time, your brother had been diagnosed with autism and though you were very different, I started to see some erie similarities.  I followed my instincts and had an evaluation.  We found that you too were on the spectrum.  It answered so many questions and it seemed to give you a sense of relief.  You wanted to read as much as you could about it so that you could understand why you felt so different.

You have made so much progress since then. The years of middle school that you found so daunting in the beginning, had you soaring through by the end. The fears and anxiety subsided tremendously! You began taking some advanced classes.  You started learning how to advocate for yourself with your teachers. By the time high school rolled around, you were ahead of the game having high school Spanish and Algebra under your belt.

The first year of high school was tough! But look at you now! You have started your very own club at school.  It has flourished to include those who just don't feel comfortable anywhere else ...whether they're on the spectrum, have ADHD or they just feel different. You include them and make them all feel that they are important.

You've built relationships with a number of mentors.  You seek out your natural supports and problem solve on your own! You are self-aware and set goals for yourself to work on your social skills.  You are your own advocate. No one has to tell you how to improve your life. You see something you want to change and you figure out a way to get it done. Many adults can't or won't even do that!

I know that you hate to hear the words, "You're so smart!" So I won't say that. I will say, that you demonstrate the skills of a young man who will definitely become a successful adult.

We have our moments of wanting to probably punch each other, or at least give each other a good smack upside the head.  You think you know so much more than I do, so that gets on my nerves. I know that my constant humor gets on your nerves, but it has helped you develop your own sense of humor.

Really son, I could not be more proud of the young man that you have become  and I can wait to see the adult that I know you will be.

Happy 16th Birthday!

I love you!

Mom

If Blue's story has inspired you over the years, please tell him how below. It can be your birthday gift to him. He also likes cash.

*Blue's birthday was actually February 17th.